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. KKDenver

    Obama will win in another unprecedented landslide. Guaranteed.

    July 17, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. SafeJourney

    Sununu is throwing out the red meat to the dogs of the repub party and the repubs here are fighting like dogs

    July 17, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. CBR

    Mr. Sununu should not be telling anyone how to be an American. His work in Washington was not impressive.

    To even accuse the President of not being American is an absolutely ludicrous. Now you have to be a Conservative Republican to be American. Every single American should be outraged by these remarks. Mr. Sununu owes the President and everly American who might agree with him an apology.

    No one has called those Republicans who sent us to war and sent our troops to fight without the proper equipment incompetent Americans. Did they go out and sign up for the Armed Forces and volunteer to fight? Did their sons and daughters or are they like the sons of Romney who are doing their service by helping their father run for President.

    Before you use this language make sure you have a perfect record. Mr. Sununu does not and should not make any comments about anyone else.

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

    “He comes out of that that murky world in Chicago where politician and felon has become synonymous,”. It is funny to hear any politicial say this about another politician, and I don't mean funny in a good way.

    July 17, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Mary

    How about he and his likes take care of their short comings and meanness instead of pointing fingers at some one else for a change. When a point a finger at some one, the other fingers are pointing towards you.

    July 17, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Chumlee

    Wake up voters. The Romney mouth pieces are full of crap, just like the candidate little Mittens.

    Liars, cheats, frauds, criminals (Bush and his pals and wars), ignorant asses.

    July 17, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. scoobypoo

    Sununu should learn how to be a human, with only one chin even.

    July 17, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. david

    Show your tax records Romney...then this can all go away.

    July 17, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. ClarasBeau

    Yeah, be a typical American!... Spoiled, self-indulgent, ignorant, and ill-mannered.
    No thanks.

    July 17, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. didntcha

    Typical Republican, loves America, hates the people that live here.

    July 17, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. So_Simple_Simon

    Quite a bunch of you know what.

    July 17, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Paul

    Typical Republican, loves his money, hates everything else.

    July 17, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Moderate Sean

    Justusselah – Well said, my friend, well said.....I am a moderate and cannot agree with you more!! Thank you for your post!

    July 17, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. HCX

    The old guard is defending their way of life and they don't like the change one bit so they are desperate now and will say or do anything to hang on and try not to give an inch or a nickle. It bothers me that they use patriotism as a shield and fear as a sword.

    July 17, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. asm_ith

    It's disgusting to have someone say this about the President, any President. While many disagreed vehemently with Bush, I don't recall many saying that he needed to learn how to be an American. This is just consistent with the entire storyline about Obama being "other", "not like us", which is why the birther issue still hasn't gone away.

    July 17, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. AgeofInsanity

    “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.”

    Are you kidding me? These people managed this all by themselves. No help from government, no help from dedicated employees.

    Sununu for all his brilliance can be pretty stupid at times. Making such an outrageous statement the president isn't American! The Republicans are doomed and so are we if we allow them to run America.

    July 17, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Debbie

    No Obama don't learn their ways.....All they want to do is bully people and steal......

    July 17, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. John

    Obama has successfully changed the dialogue away from the failing economy and to Mitt Romney's wealth.
    I am not sure I enjoy being duped this way.
    I would prefer it if we could talk about forward looking strategies but I guess we all respond to negative sound bites so there is not much hope of that.

    July 17, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. sassysticks53

    This Democratic Party is about as low as you can set. What a bunch of losers. They make me ashamed to be an Ameriscan.

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    This GOP/Tea Party is about as low as you can get. What a bunch of losers. They're still a bunch of frightened racists, just like their forefathers were (only they were Democrats back then). They make me ashamed to be an American not to mention they are a pure embarassment – showing the world they are still racist cowards.

    See how your own ignorant words can be turned around, modified and used against you? LOL!

    July 17, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. J W N in SC

    What an incredibly UGLY man...........in every possible way.

    July 17, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    Another half-hidden effort by the Republicans to insinuate that the President is "different and not one of us". The color of his skin seems to put Republicans into a frenzy. They curtsey and kiss the ring of the likes of Gordon Norquist, listen to the ravings of Rush Limbaugh and ,whose sole gain is to further enrich the rich at the expense of what is left of the middle class. How did this happen? What has happened to the once-proud Republican party? I am totally ashamed of the party to which I once belonged. They will never again get my vote.

    July 17, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. nazimoja

    Who is Shanun??? Some pre-historic being, perhaps a caveman, naver heard of John sanunu. What a name "Sununu" Obama sounds better

    July 17, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. anoel2005

    Sununu is right.

    Wake up America ! Obama is clueless.

    We got 8.2% unemployment, s&p downgrade, & 23 million people out of work.

    July 17, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. phijef

    What type of American, John? Do you want him to be more like a white, latino, black, native, asian American? More like a Washington insider like yourself? More like a billionaire, like your man Mitt? There is NO prototypical American, John. That's what makes us so unique as a country.

    July 17, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Dan5404

    And Sununu should keep his opinions (stupid as they are) secret, just as the GOP billionaires hide their efforts to allow a few of them to own American elections. They already own the GOP politicians.

    July 17, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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