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. Ronnie

    Reminds me of one of the Harold and Kumar movies where an old man on the plane said: IT"S POISON GASS

    July 17, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. Valentina

    Good for you Mr. Sununu! Call it like it is! OBAMA SUCKS!

    July 17, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Pan3

    What an idiot!

    July 17, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Sorensen

    Sununu is a disgusting, fat, ugly, old, irrelevant idiot.

    July 17, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. charlesName

    Irwin, what a con. He is calling the pot black. It go to show u how the rep. Party thinks. How about the workers that make buss. All there $$$. All the rep. Party thinks about is the ones with $$$. They don't care aboeut the workers. Romney will give all the tax breaks to the rich and make the workers of this country pay for it all and take away our dreams of middle class. Plus take our S.S., Medicare, and the chance to make our dreams come true. Obama2012 push the vote. And keep American workers dreams!!!

    July 17, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Land of the High Sky

    Obama has proven untrainable when it comes to the economy. People that can't do their job get fired and that’s what we are going to do to Obama. He is done, toast, period. Time to vacation on his own dime.

    July 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I watched Sununu on TV. He was so good that he put a smile on my face. Sununu = correct, bald. wise, right to the point. In your face Barak Obama. Mitt Romney is too much of a gentleman for you, to go down to your attack level of dishonesty and manipulation, but Sununu, God Bless you.

    July 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Michael in Houston

    Yep...I am pretty much convinced at this point that there is much in Romneys background the GOP does not want out there. I think the Obama and dem team has sniffed something and they have gotten to close to the truth and Romney is in a full panic that its closing in on him.

    July 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. EKbedfordOH

    Nice rug, Sununu! Reel Amerkins don't need no stinking rug!

    July 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. glorydays

    If these hateful people represent what Americans should be, I'm gonna become a New Zealander.

    July 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. chas sauer

    What does he have to say about those who prayed that our president ( I take as the country ) would fail? Are they Americans? There can only be one reason for romney not reliesing his tax returns, IT will hurt him!!!!

    July 17, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. ladyofthe night

    I watched Sununu on TV. He was so good that he put a smile on my face. Sununu = correct, bald. wise, right to the point. In your face Barak Obama. Mitt Romney is too much of a gentleman for you, to go down to your attack level of dishonesty and manipulation, but Sununu, God Bless you.

    July 17, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. yolanda

    God forbid we resort to talking about Obama's record as president.....

    July 17, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Daniel6

    I think it's really funny that team Obama thinks this rhetoric is over the top--how's that saying "Stop Whining"??? And yes Mr POTUS YOU did create this verbal barrage--unlike anything in the private sector

    July 17, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. J from Michigan

    Sununu is not an American either, so he needs to STFU.

    July 17, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Governor 47th in Job Creation (excluding jobs off-shored to China)

    Learn how to be an American! Cheat your taxes, lie on your filings (either to the SEC or to govern MA), keep your money out of the country, dodge the draft because you're a coward, strip workers pensions and ship their jobs overseas, and strap the dog to the roof of your car. USA USA USA USA. When all else fails (and it is for Willard) try the I'm more patriotic then you card. Epic fail again for team Robmey.
    GOTP really needs to think long and hard about what they want to do in Tampa, Willard the clown is meeting the fork; he's done.

    July 17, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Dixie Normous

    Is there anything more un-American than the democrats and the way they have disrespected the USA? There is no worse enemy of the country than the domestic terrorist democrat party. They are pushing hard for a civil war, I say we give those yellow cowards one, and wipe them and their diseased ideology away for eternity.

    July 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Jeff In Oregon

    Republicans, what a bunch of ugly, hateful people. Obama is a shining individual and leader on the hill compared to the GOP crowd. What a sick bunch.

    July 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. The Voice of Reason

    The Obamas have hundreds of thousands of dollars in a mutual fund that has large holdings in corporations that outsource jobs.

    July 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. rs

    As the Republican Party has long since stopped working to benefit run-of-the-mill Americans, that's a pretty funny comment. I am beginning to think all Republican politicians should spend some time at Gitmo with the rest of the terrorists.

    July 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    GOP is a CULT.

    July 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Jeff

    This GOP culture of latent dogwhistle racism is going to get our President hurt or killed.

    Vile, shameless, disgusting, and irresponsible behavior on the part of the Congressman, Limbaugh, Bachmann, et al.

    They make me embarrassed to be an American because I'm surrounded by racist idiots.

    July 17, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. Karrie

    Isn't he the guy who while on the White House staff used military planes like his personal taxis at the taxpayer's expense? And he's going to lecture now on being an American? Go look in the mirror pal, and then shut up and sit down.

    July 17, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. C.J.

    Sununu talks about Rezko which is most likely totally unfounded. But then you need to look at Sheldon Adelson and his dealings with the Chinese mob and possibly the funneling of dirty money from china (where we outsource most jobs too) into Romneys Super Pac's. looks to me like Adelson is Romneys Laundry man. Is that what Romneys hiding? talk about Rezko to take the eye of the current scandal? I wonder if it has skipped the attention of the media that once again we see hypocrisy in action

    July 17, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. D

    Same old crap from the GOP. Hilarious how they criticize Obama, yet time and again they've shown us how crooked they really are.

    Keep pointing the finger, GOP. A new generation of educated individuals is on its way, and your fear/smear tactics used on the ignorant will continue to lose steam.

    July 17, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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