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WASHINGTON – Did Mitt Romney hit the Etch-A-Sketch reset button too early?

That’s what Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom must be asking himself today after Rick Santorum’s huge victory in Louisiana where he came close to winning a majority of the vote among four remaining candidates.

Santorum was projected the winner with less than 20 percent of the vote counted on the basis of a commanding 45 percent to 28 percent lead over Romney, with Newt Gingrich getting 19 percent and Ron Paul with 6.

Santorum’s win was his fourth in the South, where front-runner Mitt Romney has not been able to connect with conservative voters.

Some 20 delegates were up for grabs in Louisiana. According to a CNN estimate before the Louisiana race, Romney had 563 delegates, more than twice the 251 Santorum had, and nearly halfway to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Exit polls show one in five Louisiana voters saying the Etch-A-Sketch remarks played a role in their voting decision.

Asked whether Romney’s positions in the GOP primary might make him too conservative for more moderate voters in November’s general election, Romney adviser Fehrnstrom said the campaign could start over in the fall.

“Everything changes,” said Fehrnstrom. “It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up” and start all over again.

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