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. Cindy

    Republicans think only the rich are Americans. The rest of us are just renters.

    July 17, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. sassysticks53

    "It should be quite obvious to everyone at this point that this President is in way over his head and doesn't have a clue. He was voted in because there really wasn't much of a choice other than McCain and Palin. This country is in serious trouble and if someone REAL and RELIABLE who's not afraid to tell the truth and hurt some feelings along the way would come along, then maybe we could put this country back together again."

    I wonder who would be REAL and RELIABLE? It sure as heck aint Robney. Your candidate should have been the fat dude, Christie. Robney will lose the election, especially when the nation and the world finds out that the greedy, job outsourcing, tax cheat who is hiding millions upon millions of money in foreign bank accounts, actually hasn't paid one dime in taxes in years.

    MITT ROBNEY = LOSER

    July 17, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. freelance

    How to be American : Let the money trickle down from the uber rich.

    July 17, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. zaggs

    " avoid answering serious questions about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital and investments in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts,"

    Its a serious question how Romney ran a successful business over a decade ago but not serious over how our pandering child king is running the country? Huh?

    July 17, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. ebhouston

    Obama will take the house down by winning November 2012
    OBAMA-BIDEN 2012-2016

    July 17, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Sandy

    Don't fall for it guys! They are just trying to change the subject from Romney's tax returns.

    TAX RETURNS, PLEASE!

    July 17, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. RJ1008

    If the country supports the tea baggers,it is only encouraging laziness, greed, extremism and hate. Many of the tea baggers are high school drop outs, who are cashing govt. checks and sitting lazy with no skills to get jobs. My neighbor who is a tea bagger constantly talks about Obama's socialism and free loaders despite the fact that he out of a job for 18 months now and living on govt. checks to survive. May be he thinks only he is eligible for govt. money but not others. That is the true story of many tea baggers. Despite all that noise they make, they are the real free loaders.

    July 17, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. cj1

    From what i see most of you are fools. Especially the Obama fans

    July 17, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. GiveMeABreak

    Hammerer wrote:
    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.
    ____________________
    I hear this sentiment frequently from the conservatives, but do not understand it. Putting services in place to assist our citizens upon whom misfortune has fallen is what every great civilization does. Yes, there are abuses and those should be addressed, but let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. What is your conservative solution? Let them eat cake, as long as the 1% keep as much of their millions as possible? Survival of the fittest. Just like in the jungle. Just like animals. Is that it?

    July 17, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. anoel2005

    America is a place where, based upon your work ethics, you can achieve success or not .

    Obama's vision: Heavily tax all successful people in order to give more and more to the poor until the playing field gets leveled ( i.e. Socialism).

    July 17, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. J.R.

    People like Mitt Romney and John Sununu don't see people of color as real Americans!
    That is why he said that President Obama needs to learn how to be a real American.
    They Even think this way about Native Americans.

    July 17, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. humberto

    I suspect their reasoning is, If the budget was stable, they would complain about how much it would cost them to have someone cut their grass for them .

    July 17, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Core republican Values

    Wow. I didn't realize Sununu was such a creep.

    July 17, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. DocHollywood

    It's people like Sununu who are really unAmerican. They're the one's always yelling "socialist", and "commie" and "show me your birth certificate". Anyone they disagree with, they accuse of not being an American. But America has a rich tradition of peoples with differenting opinions. It's too bad Sununu can't learn that, and be a bit more American himself.

    July 17, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Dave

    This guy needs to shut up and retire, and take all his socialized security that I pay for.

    July 17, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Bain Damage

    Obama.

    Marxist (didnt work)
    communist (didnt work)
    socialist (aint working)
    Black (cant use that one)
    Muslim (didnt work)
    Kenyan (didnt work)
    Birth certificate (didnt work)
    Un-American (not going to work)

    Republicans are getting desperate, whats next ?
    He offers up dead kittens to satan ?
    He kissed Michelle yesterday and all you nut cases went ballistic.
    I cant wait till November, just so you people will shut up.

    July 17, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. richwood7

    Obama should learn to become an American???? A party that wants to murder 50 million American IS American??????? At one of Romney campaign stops when he was talking about the uninssured the crowd screamed "Let 'em die, let 'em die" This isn't even Christian let alone American. Norquist, the true God that the Republicans worship is married to a Muslim...do you now know why they want to kill us??? They should all move back to Iran where they can hate America openly.

    July 17, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Obama is as American as Dog Meat Stew

    Obama is a center left pragmatist.
    ===========================
    Just as Lenin was a center left pragmatist, and Stalin was a center left pragmatist, and Castro was a center left pragmatist...

    Yeah, sure whatever floats your boat. Take another long swig of that koolaide, it's very hot out.

    July 17, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. pat carr

    And i wish that John Sununu wouldn't resemble Jabba the Hut but we can't always get what we want.....

    July 17, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. gar

    Sununu should learn how to a human being. He reminds me of a toad.

    July 17, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. KKDenver

    The disgusting tripe that comes out of these peoples mouths is the most un American anyone has ever heard. You disrespectful bag of gas.

    July 17, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. WDinDallas

    Obamacare – the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revised its cost upwards for the second time. obama's initial cost estimate for the next decade was $900B, the CBO's first revision was $1.7T (starting 2011), and now it's $2.6T (starting 2014 – the year in which most of Obamacare's spending provisions take place)

    July 17, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. badcyclist

    It is hilarious that Mitt is whining about the Obama campaign tying him to his responsibilities while at Bain (which is relevant to the race), while the Republican campaign for the last four years has been "Obama is Not An American" (which is just good old fashioned race baiting). Good god.

    July 17, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. sassysticks53

    "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."
    __________________________________________________________

    Hour by hour the country is finding out that Robney probably paid no taxes whatsoever. If he did, he would have shown several years of tax returns by now. Something is very, very wrong with Robney's "business success." He lied about his tenure at Bain and now it's coming home to roost! I cannot wait until it all comes falling down on Robney, the GOP and their bigoted followers. Just a matter of time. We will all find out just how successful Mr. Outsourcer of American Job really is/was.

    July 17, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. richwood7

    Obama should learn to become an American???? A party that wants to murder 50 million American IS American??????? At one of Romney campaign stops when he was talking about the uninssured the crowd screamed "Let 'em die, let 'em die" This isn't even Christian let alone American. Norquist, the true God that the Republicans worship is married to a Muslim...do you now know why they want to kill us??? They should all move back to Iran where they can hate America openly.

    July 17, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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