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And...Here Comes The Pivot*

This morning I wrote about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell trying out the Etch-a-Sketch on his abortion stance. But as Mitt Romney showed just moments later, he remains the unquestioned master of this machine. Here, children, is how it’s really done:

March 5: 

At a town hall meeting in Ohio today, Romney was asked how he planned to help students better afford college. Instead of offering substantive policy solutions aimed at bringing down the cost of college, Romney told students that they should “shop around” for an affordable school or “think about serving the country” in order to get a free education:
ROMNEY: ...[M]y best advice is find a great institution of higher learning, find one that has the right price, and shop around. In America, this idea of competition, it works! [...] I want to make sure that every kid in this country that wants to go to college gets the chance to go to college. If you can’t afford it, scholarships are available, shop around for loans, make sure you go to a place that’s reasonably priced, and if you can, think about serving the country ’cause that’s a way to get all that education for free.

In other words, you’re on your own, kid—don’t expect the government’s help.**

But today, the day that the Obama campaign was planning to hit him for joining congressional Republicans in refusing to prevent student loan interest rates for 7 million people from doubling in the months ahead, Romney had this to say:

“Particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” [Romney] said at a joint appearance with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in Philadelphia. “There was some concern that would expire halfway through the year, and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students … in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.”

One can only imagine what those oh-so-enthusiastic Romney endorsers on the Hill will think about that, and much more of the same to come.

*Apologies to Tim Noah.

**Reading Greg Sargent's blog reminds me that the other part of Romney's comments on March 5 were even more at opposition to his new stance on student loan rates: “It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that. Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Follow me on Twitter @AlecMacGillis