WASHINGTON — Who: Rick Santorum.
Quote: "You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there. If they're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future."
Why it matters: Santorum appeared to say Thursday that it would be better to re-elect Democratic President Barack Obama than to elect Mitt Romney, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, whom he implicitly dismisses as "the Etch A Sketch candidate" who'd be little different from the incumbent.
Even if he believes it, that's impolitic talk for partisans of any party.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sun News
His rivals pounced.
"I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican," Romney said. "Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure."
"I am stunned by his statement that if he is not the Republican nominee, we might be better off with the re-election of President Obama," said Bob Walker, campaign chairman for Newt Gingrich. "Whatever our differences inside the Republican primaries, no candidate should be suggesting that Barack Obama is a reasonable alternative."
Santorum responded Friday, denying that he'd meant to say that Obama would be preferable to Romney.
"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican, and to suggest otherwise is preposterous," he said in a statement.
But that's sure what his comment Thursday sounded like.
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY
Follow Steven Thomma on Twitter
For more McClatchy politics coverage visit Planet Washington