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.

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"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."

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

    Still waiting, over three years now, for the Regressive Party to come up with some solutions to the many problems facing this country. And "we will cut taxes" does not count. Two interesting stories today. First, the so called Socialist country of Canada just passed the U.S. in personal wealth, and a study shows that the actual tax rate matters little to the economy, just the fact that it is fairly stable. We need to increase and/or change the whole tax structure. Another recession with low tax rates would leave the government with no room to give a tax cut when needed.. Sorry, but my economic education is limited to Economics 101 about 40 years ago, the rest is educating myself by reading everything since. Some of you might try that before posting..

    July 17, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Hani Omar

    Someone asked about what is Sununu mean. It means a "Bat" in the Arabic language. Sununu's origins are from Lebanon where Arabic is spoken. A Bat on the attack!

    July 17, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA has a FAILURE PROBLEM

    Obama is a far left socialist, end of story. Nobody can claim that is "American". He takes after his father but refuses to come clean with the American people. I guess we'll have to wait until we vote him out and he writes his memoirs where he will admit it.

    July 17, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. NauticalMan

    Still waiting, over three years now, for the Republican Party to come up with some solutions to the many problems facing this country. And "we will cut taxes" does not count. Two interesting stories today. First, the so called Socialist country of Canada just passed the U.S. in personal wealth, and a study shows that the actual tax rate matters little to the economy, just the fact that it is fairly stable. We need to increase and/or change the whole tax structure. Another recession with low tax rates would leave the government with no room to give a tax cut when needed.. Sorry, but my economic education is limited to Economics 101 about 40 years ago, the rest is educating myself by reading everything since. Some of you might try that before posting..

    July 17, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. beevee

    Strange this is coming from a republican politician. Looks like Romney is caught in a tight corner looking for all sorts of ways to belittle the president through surrogates. Is Sununu from Lebanon?

    July 17, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Taran

    @chas sauer, it was prayed that the president would fail because the people hoping for his failure knew the damage his policies would cause this country, thus leading to the failure of the country itself. The left needs to get a clue, noone wants the country to fail, except perhaps obama himself, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and just credit his policies, not his personal wishes, to the damage done.

    July 17, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Dave

    So 29 BILLION of our tax dollars in the bribery scheme known as "stimulus" goes overseas to foreign companies and you people are worried about whether Romney was in charge of a private company designed to get troubled companies on their feet when some jobs were outsourced???????

    the blinders some of you wear for Obama is incredible.

    The man is an abject failure. The most inept president I have ever witnessed. He is a massive mistake.

    Admit and let's move on

    July 17, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. native new yorker

    A real American, like them who don't care how much damage they do to the country just so they make sure Obama's a 1 term president? I can do without a "real American" like the Republicans. They make me puke.

    July 17, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Michael

    I think Robney in sin trouble! All the Robney voters will find out who his policies will support if he gets elected "the RICH" not the middle class! I just do not see Americans being this dumb and elected a candidate like Robney!

    July 17, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Philip Kerler

    Sununu is a hack who thrives on misrerpresenting facts, just like Karl Rove. The GOP always talks about small business owners. They would have you believe all the millionaires are small business owners who create jobs. Many are heirs who have never worked a day in their life and many business owners invest the mney from tax breaks and send the jobs overseas.
    The comment by Valentina is offensive. She should says what she disagrees with Obama about, not call names.In my opinion her comment violates the Terms of Service and should be removed. I would say the same if she had said "Romney sucks".

    July 17, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Massachusetts is the Best

    How to get on CNN: Be a pig and insult the President. Wolf, why do you pander to the hate segment of society?

    July 17, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Ray

    Typical GOP response, anyone who doesn't buy into their message can't be a real American. Of course, the Cuba-born Sununu's idea of being a real American is to milk the taxpayers of this country for all they're worth, like he did when he served in the Bush 41 cabinet.

    July 17, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. LEK

    Sununu you are a sad, sad, sad person. You sold out to the Hispanic-community and you've gotten on the crazy train. Its people like you that will contribute to President Obama winning by a landslide. I guess thanks is in order. Now go sit down somewhere...little man

    July 17, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Investment Advisor

    @ Rajinder Goyal....Gee, what does an "American name" sound like? And you libs call conservatives "racist"?

    July 17, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. realitybites

    Geeze Sununu. Could you be any more stereotypical? No way to hide that, aparently. Like wearing ignorant, narrowminded, arrogance is a badge of pride that no one should be ashamed of. If you were in grade school (not sure you evolved past that mentality), I would forgive you for being a stupid kid who doesn't know any better. But, since you have a group of "friends" who feel emboldened because someone else says the same ignorant crap as you,it's OK. Hitler had a buch of friends who thought what he said was cool too......

    Looks like someone needs to "learn to be an adult" but at your age, I see that opportunity may have been lost a looooong time ago. 1860's perhaps?

    July 17, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Mary - Dallas

    Sununu – why not learn to be an American yourself? Are you sure you are a citizen of this country that cares about fellow Americans? You are not being an American if all you want is to surpress the poor & elect someone who flip flpos every way just to get elected. Obama is more an American than any of you people making it seem like he is not because you just can't stand the fact that a black person is the president of this country – something you never thought will happen in your lifetime. All you repub just won't work with him because of your racists self. Too bad. Get used to it because he will lead you for another 4 years. Just keep your stupid opinion to yourself.

    July 17, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. B

    The democrat party is a cult.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. cicName

    I guess romney knows how to be an American. Ship all the jobs overseas, put your money in a blind trust so you don't have to worry where it's being invested, keep all your money in foreign accounts so uncle sam don't get to ask you for some, in time of wars go on a mission with your church so you don't get drafted, make sure your kids don't sign up to join in the military so they don't get killed and you be given a stupid flag........

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    Wonder if Sununu is getting money from Adelson too? (You know the owner of 2 casinos in Macau, China that is making a ton of money for Adelson since Vegas has had cutbacks). Communist money going to RMoney and Cantor and used to go to gingrich. He wants U.S. to fight Iran for Israel. He's transparent.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Andrew

    American means working for a good wage, good working environment , a government by and for the people.. Not government for business and only business. Business fail because of poor product and stubborn ignorance to how the real world works. Rich invest to help a business gain start up capital.. The revenue from sales of the service and product equals jobs. A business can't create jobs from low taxes.. We've lived it the past 12 years. Taxes need to rise just like interest rates.. The dollar needs to increase in value for us to retain any future purchasing power. But what these fools will sell you is a low dollar is great for export sales but horrible for the citizens of this nation. Investor like a low dollar .. It helps their foreign friends to buy up our infrustructure.. And making us pay more for the cheap crap. They win we loose. Until people in the USA grasp the idea that the middle and lower class do all the real work and get nothing in real value in return we'll continue to allow the boss play golf for $500 an hour on a nice beach as we bust are backs.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Wake up people

    No one is more un American than the current crop of obstructionist, treasonous congressmen we have in office today. To take an oath against the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, it just doesn't get more anti-American than that. Btw, nice rug. NOT!

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. tesul

    I thought we didn't have a definition of what it is to be American and that is what made us unique. That to be American means many things.

    BTW, he wasn't even born here, neither were either of his parents.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    THe Marxist upbringing and education of Obama is coming out, bit by bit, and we're finally getting the true picture of where he is planning to take this nation.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Philip Kerler

    6km North of GZero, Obama is not a Muslim. Get your facts straight.

    July 17, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. MikeInCarolina

    You need to do some checking on exactly who John Sununu is. He is far from an icon of morality and honesty. Deceit was his claim to fame 2 decades ago.

    July 17, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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