July 17th, 2012
06:44 PM ET
11 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. nico

    Ronmey needs to invest and pay all his taxes in America

    July 17, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Brehon

    A tru "Fat Cat", John Sununu has been gorging at the public trough so long he probably can't even remember what country he was born in. Which, by the way was... where? Switzerland? Is he an Swiss Citizen like Frau Michele Bachmann? OR is that just where his money is like Herr Romney " My trust is blind, and I think you're stupid" Romney. Are these chowderheads actually counting on their racist nonsense to slither them through? I wouldn't bet a Swiss Franc on it. Or a Bahamian Dollar or a Cayman Islands Dollar or (depending on how man Casino Owner Sheldon Adelson gave me) a Macanese pataca or 10,000 of each of them as per Herr Romney.

    People like UnAmerican Sununu and his foreign exchange cronies have done more damage to this country than an infestation of termites to a wooden house. It's time for them and their racist bile to be discharged.

    GOP: Greed Over People
    100% Republican Hypocrisy! Made in America but shipped overseas! (TM)
    "You can smell the Truthiness in every load!

    July 17, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. SMJ

    Just another R running their stupid mouth! It's disgusting to hear anyone call the POTUS "Un-American."

    July 17, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. jan

    Romney needs to hi back with everything and then say at the end.. I will not speak of taxes, Bain anything demanded by the opposition until Obama shows his college records, explains his associations with Rezko et al, explains how and why he has a Ct soc Sec #.
    Ii will not spend one minute looking back.. I will only outline my plans for the future. This will stump the idiot Lib Media as they will have -0- to pick pick on.

    July 17, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mitt Bernie- Madeoff-with-peoples-money-Robmoney is un-American for steamrolling American workers and outsourcing jobs for profits, then hiding the stolen assets in foreign accounts to evade paying taxes!

    July 17, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. B

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

    July 17, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Name

    Only someone who has never owned their own business would vote for obama. You might not like Romney, but he is the lesser of the 2 evils. Obama has no clue about business, and we need some kind of business since to get us out of the huge economic mess we are in. Also, for obama to say in his speech last week that everyone who has ever owned a business has had some help from the govt. and didn't do it all by themselves is just plain on cloud nine. My husband works 12-14 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week because he works for himself. It is wayyyy easier to work for someone else. Obama Judy doesn't get it because he's never done it.

    July 17, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Seth

    aka. a black man is president and I don't like it.

    July 17, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. John

    If Obama's policies are socialistic and the stock market is the "scoreboard" of capitalism, please answer the following..
    Why has stock market gone up 8 trillion $ since Obama came in and lost 4 trillion during GW's 8 years?
    " " " " 14.5% during Demo presidencies and 1.4% during GOP presidencies over last 100 years?
    11 recessions began during the last 100 years...10 of the 11 began during GOP presidencies.....Why?
    Seems that if Obama & other Democrats "tick" socialistic, then Capitalism must prefer "socialism" to "conservatism"...

    July 17, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. Ed Zepp

    You cannot get much more un-American than questioning the patriotism of someone who disagrees with you.
    –That is not the ideal this country was founded on. The Founding Fathers would be appalled and this coming from a Governor.

    July 17, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. billy davis

    The GOP "We're Un-American we just want you to think the POTUS is"

    July 17, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. steven harnack

    And they have the gall to say that Obama is being too mean to Romney? The Republicans have been spouting this same garbage for over 5 years now with no repercussions and unfortunately they've covinced a certain number of people that it must be true because they hear it every day fron people who are supposed to be intelligent and respected. If these tactics work for them then this counrty is lost and the future will make Idiocracy look like prophecy.

    July 17, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Kathy

    The right wing Republican party is still on the bandwagon of calling anyone who disagrees with them or opposes them or causes them any discomfort "unAmerican" or "unpatriotic" - they did this all through the George W Bush administration, and I for one am sick of it. They think they can make people believe their nonsense if they say it enough times. They truly think we're stupid.

    July 17, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. billy davis

    Most Americans have never owned a business and you are probably one of them.

    July 17, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. tepeters

    Sununu -Who let this old crank out of his home. Tell him to go lie down some place till he learns some manners.

    July 17, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. john5021

    So the GOP is resorting to this now. I'm seeing that we really need to send a strong message to the Republicans and vote these slumbums out so they can go back to their America with capes and head caps, along with nazi emblems. The GOP has become a rich mans power grab club. All for them and the 1% and nothing but worker bees with the 99%.

    July 17, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. Head Hog

    How can you be a good American if you are not an old, fat greedy white guy? This guy is a yes man from the Bush years whose future is as an attack dog for the 1%

    July 17, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Harv

    I would not have guessed that Sununu is a racist; but he is clearly pandering to those who are.....

    July 17, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Suzanne

    Being American means different things. This person has a very limited view on what is American. I am very concerned about America and its struggle to accept and understand varied opinions.

    July 17, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Tom

    John Sununu is a pig! Just look at him. An appropriate caption under his picture could very well be "oink."

    July 17, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Jeff in TX

    Sununu is an idiot and a guinea pig. This is a trial balloon to see what sticks, a derivative of the birther crap. Easily handled for any clear-thinking Dems or Independents.

    July 17, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. John

    Funny that Sununu is talking about "cheek by jowl" relationships.......the jowls in his cheeks, not unlike those of Chris Christie, are baggy enough to store a winters supply of squirrel nuts.....

    July 17, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Solidrock

    When it is a Republican speaking they are an attack dog, when it is Obama's lap dogs they are his supporters. What a crock. With Obama as President we don't have to wonder about the truth because ther isn't any. I will hold tight to my faith, my bible and my guns and hope that the American People wake up. Is Romney my first choice no but he is far and above a better pick than any anti American Democrat that has been field in the last 50 years!

    July 17, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Obama is as American as Dog Meat Stew

    wade - Fed Boss Reports Economy Getting Worse, 'Confidence Low'
    Business are angry with Obama for his comments that they owe their success to the GOV.

    The Obama plague continues.... 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 months of record unemployment with OFailure. The ONLY way to break out of the Obama Depression is to flush the socialist out of the Whitehouse. It is the only cure.

    July 17, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. DanW

    Wow, the name calling has gone over the top already! For a former presidential chief of staff to make near-McCarthy era statements like this lowers the respectability of the whole Republican party.

    July 17, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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