July 17th, 2012
06:44 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney surrogate apologizes for saying Obama should 'learn how to be an American'

Irwin, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Mitt Romney's national campaign co-chair John Sununu apologized Tuesday afternoon for saying he wished President Barack Obama would "learn how to be an American" earlier in the day.

Appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," Sununu said he regretted using those words on a campaign conference call.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"I'm apologizing for using those words," said Sununu. "I did say those words that were there and, frankly, I made a mistake."

Sununu said his point was to criticize Obama for failing as an economic leader and creating a toxic environment for businesses.

"I was making the point that in America, entrepreneurs deserve credit and there is an American formula for creating jobs," said Sununu. "I don't apologize for the idea that this president has demonstrated that he does not understand how jobs are created in America. He thinks that jobs are created by giving grants to your cronies, to your bundlers and your contributors, like he did with Solyndra."

The earlier conference call with reporters came as the Republican presidential candidate continued to battle attacks from Democrats over Romney's business career and tax returns. It also featured heated comments from a group of small business owners, one of whom likened Obama's economic policies to "socialism."

Sununu responded to the characterization in his CNN interview, saying he does not think Obama is a socialist but "he created a feeling among entrepreneurs that he's not a capitalist."

Despite the apology, Sununu continued to bash Obama's economic record.

Sununu, a former governor of New Hampshire who is known for being a reliable and colorful attack dog, criticized Obama for his so-called "cheek by jowl" relationship with donors in the initial conference call. Continuing a line of attack pursued by Romney Monday, Sununu accused Obama of steering government loans to political friends.

"He thinks that jobs are created by giving grants to your cronies, to your bundlers and your contributors, like he did with Solyndra. Like he did with Vista (ph), like he did with the wind projects that took jobs out of this country," Sununu told Blitzer. "The common denominator is that they all had owners and investors that were bundlers and contributors to his campaign."

In the call earlier, Sununu revived an attack from the 2008 campaign over Obama's relationship with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, and tied the president to the notorious sphere of Chicago politics.

"He comes out of that that murky world in Chicago where politician and felon has become synonymous," he said. "It is an area where Tony Rezko is a convicted felon and is in prison, and just happened to be a guy that did a smarmy real estate deal with the president, where Rezko pays top dollar and the president pays a discount and the deal is able to be done."

Sununu also charged on the call the president "has absolutely no idea how the American economy functions."

"The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build their businesses from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world," Sununu said. "It is the American way, and I wish this president would learn how to be an American."

Asked on the call by a reporter to clarify his comment, Sununu said he had meant to criticize Obama's understanding of the American way of doing business.

"The president has to learn the American formula for creating business," he said.

Responding to Sununu's comments, Obama's campaign declared Team Romney had "officially gone off the deep end."

"The question is what else they'll pull to avoid answering serious questions about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital and investments in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith wrote in a statement. "This meltdown and over-the-top rhetoric won't make things better – it only calls attention to how desperate they are to change the conversation."

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.


Filed under: 2012 • John Sununu • Mitt Romney
soundoff (580 Responses)
  1. cali ha ha

    Who's playing the race culture card. Dog whistle for sale anyone?

    July 17, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Bill

    These kind of comments only serve to help Obama. Kep it up Sununu.

    July 17, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. cali ha ha

    Patriotism is paying your taxes and being proud to show it

    July 17, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. nrc

    In Obama's world the us gov't came to Henry Ford and said, "Hey we built all these roads, could you make a product to drive on them?" Innovation creates infrastructure, infrastructure does not create innovation. I am a small business owner and I enjoy having employees, I take pride in success for all around me. This President is a joke and I have never said it before, but I believe it now, he is unAmerican. He was born here, but he stands for everything wrong with our fractured country.

    July 17, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Obama 2012 - MOVE Forward America, NOT another round of DUBYA's FAILURES

    LOL – the very idea of Willard surrogates telling Obama to learn how to be an American is laughable. Coming from a very patriotic camp that supports outsourcing, off-shoring, Cayman and Swiss accounts for the wealthy, one has to question the motive being other than purely political. Dirty pool folks, dirty pool !

    July 17, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. bcm

    What a loser! We all know that republicans have never been accused of "cronyism." Anyone ever heard of Halliburton? Seems to me that the last republican president (who they never mention by name) started an unnecessary war to the benefit of Halliburton. How much of a hypocrit can you be?

    July 17, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA has a FAILURE PROBLEM

    “The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build their businesses from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world,” Sununu said. “It is the American way, and I wish this president would wish how to learn how to be an American.”
    ================================================================================================
    Yeah well Obama thinks that all of the success of people and businesses is because of the government, which they all pay for anyways! Yes, it was another "Joe the Plumber" moment for Obama when he gave the American people a view into what he is REALLY like. It is clear Obama is a big government socialist just like the Europeans or even worse. There is no doubt about it any longer.

    July 17, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    There they go again. They're blowing the birther dog whistles and throwing them red meat. They're back. Birthers.

    I have never in my life heard, nor ever expected to hear, someone say something that repulsive about a sitting American President. Sununu needs to submit an apology or accept the fact the people are going to call him a birther for the rest of his life.

    July 17, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Kenny K

    Sunnunu is trying attach someoneelse's felony to Obama, however, he and Romney are yet to explain whether Romney lie to people or commit perjury with SEC filings.

    July 17, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. ckcgye

    So CNN when are you going to report on what actually set the small business owners off? I saw no mention of Obama's remarks from his Friday speech that upset them.

    July 17, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Pander Bear

    Sununu owes an immediate apology to the President. Will anxiously await the excoriation from the GOP for saying something so classless and low. And wait...and wait...and wait...

    Alf/Sununu has no class.

    July 17, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. William

    Now who needs to apologize? Mr. Romney is shipping jobs overseas the American way?

    July 17, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Remi

    “It is an area where Tony Rezko is a convicted felon and is in prison, and just happened to be a guy that did a smarmy real estate deal with the president, where Rezko pays top dollar and the president pays a discount and the deal is able to be done.”

    Typical Obama deal. Legal but morally and ethically challenged. Height of hypocrisy but he has been throwing tax payer money away at sucker green energy deals to his donors for the last three years. All of them losers for the country but great for him.

    July 17, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Dave

    Just found out that Obama loves GM and he has invested billions of US taxpayer dollars in the company. However, GM outsources jobs and pays no corporate tax. You have to love the hypocrisy!

    July 17, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Consider the Source

    "Learn how to be an American." Said the guy who as White House Chief of Staff reimbursed the Ameican taxpayer $892 for more than $615,000 worth of military jet travel for personal trips for ski lodges, golf resorts, and even his dentist in Boston. Now that's a real fine example of an upstanding American if I ever saw one.

    What a sanctimonious hot bag of wind.

    July 17, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Hammerer

    Obama believes that the American way is to depend on the taxes from the successful to provide for the shiftless that only have a hand out.

    July 17, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    Told you yesterday that they new talking point deluge would be incessant "Chicago style" blather. Go ahead. Check my posts. Sununu is an ideologue jackhole dredging up this tired Rezko nonsense and the dogwhistles about Obama not being "American" because the GOP/Teatrolls have nothing left and are desperate.

    The only thing "Chicago style" here is the deep dish pan of feces the GOP/Teatrolls are trying to serve the American public to distract from Mittens' tax and Bain problems.

    July 17, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. mcskadittle

    can't even imagine what the Koch brothers are looking for in return for buying romney the election

    July 17, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Sununu saying he wished “this president would learn how to be an American.” "

    Translation: "Obama was born in Kenya."

    July 17, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Darryl

    LOL...Really ? The American way ? Yep, the American way is to Cheat on your Taxes, open Bank accounts overseas and ship jobs overseas too.Thats the American way ! Yahoo !! American is NOT for the needy, American is for the GREEDY ! American is this way, You are eighter Really, Really Rich.............Or you are Really, Really Poor ! Thats what I call The American Way ! Whats good for me is NOT good for you. I can do this, but you can NOT do the same. I can tell you how to live because I have more power and more money so that makes me smarter !!! Thats what this country is turning into...............How Very Sad !

    July 17, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Republicans - "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party

    No Sir! Mr. Romney needs to learn how to be a patriotic American.

    Stop paying taxes to foriegn countries for your offshore accounts. Have at least 1 of your FIVE 9-11-era sons serve in the military. Then maybe you`ll pay your fair share of taxes so Americas sons & daughters have bullets and body armor.

    July 17, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "It is clear Obama is a big government socialist just like the Europeans or even worse."

    OH NOES!!!! IS HE COMING AFTER MY LITTLE DOG TOO? SOMEONE QUICK, DROP A HOUSE ON HIM!

    OR

    We can all return to our regularly scheduled realty and leave you to your frantic delusions.

    July 17, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Bajos

    Sununu says that Obama should "learn how to be an American". Lindsey Graham says that it's American to avoid taxes. I get the feeling that the Conservatives live in an alternate universe where there are very different definitions of what is American and what is patriotic.

    July 17, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.

    Racism at it's finest. But you don't hear the President calling for an apology. No whining here Willard. He's been putting up with disrespect and racists remarks for the past 3 years. You need to check your surrogates and their comments at the door Willard. Because it's not the President's backlash you have to worry about, it's the PEOPLES.

    July 17, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. BK

    Mr. Sununu and Mr. Romney need to write a Book on how to be an American. In Chapter one it should outline how to put your Money in Overseas account to avoid paying American Taxes (which help the people of the United States). In Chapter two how to send Jobs out of United States – the American Way? Chapter three would show how to Rationalize anything which helps them decieve the American People – Like " How I retired Retroactively". Chapter four how to Buy an Election!

    July 17, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24