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. Larry L


    Why is Romney associating himself with this idiot?
    Ted "Mr. Crappy Pants" Nugent and Donald Trump are in the Romney Fan Club too! He will associate with Satan for a vote.

    July 17, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Sununu plays to the group that has an IQ under 50.

    July 17, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Devastated by rightwing 'patriotism = Me me Mee'ism"

    How do they find 'representatives of their values" in such low places? How does a dirtbag like Mr S. dare question the 'patriotism' of the president of this nation??

    July 17, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. myearshurt

    I wonder why all these angry-rich-white-OLD men dislike this particular President so very much?

    And why is it that they do not know the definition of socialism nor communism, yet those are their go-to insults?

    July 17, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. DDanny1

    I don't think it's a big revelation that John Sununu's idea of what makes a "real American", and Obama's view vary greatly. Sununu obviously thinks a "real American" White House chief of staff runs up $615,000 of expense taking military jets to "Republican fund-raisers, ski lodges, golf resorts and even his dentist in Boston". But to be fair, as he testified to a U.S. Senate sub-committee, he did pay for the flights, he just got a discount. He had paid $892, so he had gotten 99.8% percent off on the flights. Just to put that into perspective, if you got 99.8% off on a $20,000 car you would pay $29 for the car. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

    July 17, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. phearis

    R-money in da House!!!

    July 17, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. snoozie

    LOL! The old "he's just not one of us" ploy again. Yawn.

    July 17, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This only shows that republicans are in way over their head. They have no solutions, but they are great at creating problems. Stop domestic terrorism, vote for America by electing only democrats..

    July 17, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. AgrippaMT

    Fat old Sununu and his fellow Republicans and tea baggers are the ones who are being Un-American.

    July 17, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |

    This is yet again another macaca moment brought to us courtesy of the GOP.

    July 17, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. THAT Explains...

    "Continuing a line of attack pursued by Romney MONDAY, Sununu accused Obama of steering government loans to political friends."

    That's what Mr Romney Monday is calling for on Mondays. I wonder what Mr Romney Tuesday and Mr. Romney Thursday will say?? [wink, just a kind way to say the flip flopper...]
    and of course the Bushes never channelled anything ever to Haliburton or the other money boys... Course not... hahahaha

    July 17, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Internet Child

    I wonder if Obama had to force his health insurance provider to cover that BURN.

    July 17, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Bart

    Romney's economic policy will mimic every corporations economic policy for the last 30 years. The President and his cabinet (read:CEO and Board of directors) will stay securely in America and keep their jobs. Every other government job will be outsourced to a foreign country so they don't have to worry about minimum wages, worker safety, child labor laws or really any law at all, they can work the people to death and oay them pennies. The American workers will be offered minimum wages with no benefits and then be called greedy union thugs when they refuse to work for that amount. Same plan Romney's corporate buddies use so why not the government too?

    July 17, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. nitro

    Should someone tell this big slob that his neck needs a tummy tuck.

    July 17, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. Daniel

    You have to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel when you have the pit bull from New Hampshire trying to avert attention.

    July 17, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Justusselah

    Stop this "Obama is a socialist" stuff now. It makes everyone who states so sound ignorant! Do you know what a socialist and socialism is? If you call our president one you obviously don't. Obama is a center left pragmatist. He has amazingly brought this country from the brink of destruction left to us by the very people and policies who now want to dismiss Obama in every way. Mind you, these are the people who lied to the world about weapons of mass destruction to take us into two horribly expensive, and bloody wars. They have blood on their hands, the blood of our soldiers and the blood of 10's of thousands of innocent civilians. These same people deregulated our economy to the point where we fell off a fiscal cliff. Thanks to Obama and his team you can still use your ATM card and withdraw money from your account. 4 years ago it was in question if that would be possible. Thanks to Obama and his team we still have an auto industry. Thanks to Obama and his team we are leaving the wars illegally started by the man these same folks screaming socialism voted in. Thanks to Obama steps have been made to restructure America so the middle class may still have a shot in this country we built. Wake up you people who routinely vote against your best interests. Realize you are accountable for who you vote for. That blood and that thievery is also on your hands and on your conscious. Stop hating what you don't understand. Stop belittling what you don't comprehend. Don't fall to empty rhetoric. See things for what they are. I am a conservative, but I can never again vote for such a destructive, stand for nothing party that cares not about my interests and works to destroy the country and world I love. The reality is we've never had a better oportunity to raise the political conversation to a new height. We've never had a better chance to build new working coalitions that can put us again on the right track. This is what our visionary, but pragmatic presiden affords us today. Yet the right has chosen instead to destroy. They have chosen to employ the worst, hell bent on destroying our president and in the process our great nation. Sickening to say the least. Republicans are now the party of cynisism. The party of haters. The party now always chasing history leaving themselves on the wrong side over and over. Folks you can still clean your soul of all that party has dirtied you with. It feels so good to drop that baggage and once again see with the god given eyes we've been each given to see with. This nation was never perfect. We can only move forward. We've arrived at the time in our history where we must come to terms with our flaws, fix them and move on. If we remain small, stuck in outlandish rhetoric and hate I'm sorry we will fail to rise to the challenges of our time. Such a failure has immeasurable consequences and our finances will be the least of our worrie. All this crazy socialism, Obama is the worst president bs rhetoric will be seen as it truly is silly, inaccurate and trite. I hope for you reading this it won't take our nation's failure to see such truth and that you'll wake up today!

    July 17, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. scott

    Spot on he hit it out of the park, Obama does need to learn to be an American

    July 17, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. jamesbrummel

    Yes, we should end socialism in this country. Here is my to do list:
    1) End all socialist programs
    2) Hire my own police
    3) Hire my own fire dept
    4) Go to river, fetch my water
    5) Go to river, dispose of my waste

    July 17, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Hap

    The President didn't get deferments to get out of serving in Vietnam, or in other words let someone else die in his place. I can't think of anything more un-american not to mention cowardly. Mittsy is a gang bully, someone else has to hold his victims. Mitt is the one who doesn't get america, work hard earn a decent living and retire comfortably. The plan these guys have in mind is work hard and die.

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

    Willard "Mitt" Romney the "Overseas Outsourcer," outsourced Olympic uniforms to Burma and the 'United We Stand," pins to China. This man has outsourced our jobs and become wealthy doing it. This clearly shows that he is the one who in fact HATES AMERICA and his ACTIONS show that. John Sununu needs to hush or take a different direction.

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

    Sununu shouldn't bring up the words "cheek by jowl".

    July 17, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Kim Jong Obama - Dear leader, Ruler for Life, God Among Men

    Unamerican?? The Dear Leader will have his head for this insult. Our Dear Leader is of the heavens, a divine god that walks among us. And this infidel calls him a mere human. The re-education squads assemble as I speak. This insult shall not stand,

    July 17, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    Looks like the GOP/Tea Party dirty tricksters received their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove.

    July 17, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. bizarro25

    In reply I would have to tell many of the GOP elected officials the same thing: BE AMERICAN. Because nowadays most of 'em put their party first, America a distant second... A perfect example being the tea parties' wonderful standoff that got the US's credit rating devalued.

    July 17, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. G Foster

    Look at this guy. He looks severly diseased. Are you serious? Who would believe anything he says?

    July 17, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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