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. CD

    Has the bearings of Sununu started to fall apart. What he talks nowadays contain no substance!

    July 17, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Pander Express

    Dave- it's too bad you are not as good at fact checking as you are at copying and pasting.

    The Department of Energy and Fisker insist the government loan money was spent exclusively in the United States “to support the engineers who developed the tools, equipment and manufacturing processes for Fisker’s first vehicle, the Fisker Karma.” According to Fisker officials, that work was done in Fisker’s U.S. facilities, including its headquarters in Irvine, Calif.,”which has 700 employees and plans to continue hiring.”

    Fisker has raised over $1 billion in private equity, Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher told us. That private money was used to finance the manufacture the cars in Finland, he said, while the DOE loan was used exclusively in the U.S. for engineering, design and marketing, and sales. That supported more than 600 jobs in the U.S., he said.

    “All of the DOE loan money that we got for the Karma project had to be spent in America,” Ormisher said.

    Look the rest up yourself.

    July 17, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. sohappy

    well b o has an American birth certificate

    just kidding

    July 17, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Its official, all republicans are liars.

    July 17, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Mit Robme Should

    Robme should be an American and release his tax returns. I want to know what he's hiding.

    July 17, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. K

    Current GOP – The MOST Un-American party we've had in our recent history. They should all be voted out of office. What pieces of crap!

    July 17, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. feedledum

    If a true American is a person that evades his taxes, ships his wealth across the border, and likes to fire people than I guess Obama is indeed not a true American.

    July 17, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. The Truth Teller

    For this man to say this shows me that he isn't a American himself ! Americans aren't raced this way , and for him to even go down that road shows us that he is out of touch with the Idea of the American spirit ! George Washington would have branded him a traitor that should be drawn and quartered ! This is not a team player nor is this a man who served in any armed forces who like his friend may have been getting deferment just like most folks of this elk they always talk a good game but really don't understand the nuts and bolts of American way so Sunni or how ever you spell your name you should go back to high school and re-learn what it means to be called a American !

    July 17, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. So_Simple_Simon

    Who cares about Bain Capital? Why don't you care more about Romney success as Governor and head of the Olymics?

    Did you care about the cocane using community organizer who worked with domestic terrorist you blindly elected?

    July 17, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. GOPlies

    Keep your money in off shore accounts to avoid taxes. This is very American, Romney

    July 17, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. MikeMazzla

    This guy is a freak dinosaur. The American way LOL that is a great joke. The American way really was great in the Bush years LOL what a freaking joke. Yeah banks lying, madoffs, no oversight, the market collapsing, mortgage fraud. yeah the "American way" really worked out great

    July 17, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Olaf Big

    Sununu feeds Obama's campaign attack dogs by shooting his mouth without rhyme or reason. The last guy who called his political opponents unamerican was Joe McCarthy.

    July 17, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. joejeffrey

    Obama team response nails it: Romney's people have officially gone off the deep end.

    July 17, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. So_Simple_Simon

    Simple simon used to describe liberial media and the bloggers who can't think for themselves. You take your que from tgw whitehouse machine A Rod.

    July 17, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Jeremie

    The Tea/Republican Party ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ... LOL .....ROTF! Politics in the US has become absurd, surreal, unreal, bizarro.

    July 17, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    All the bs but we still want to see your tax returns rumknee.

    July 17, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    Isn't sununu Cuban? Maybe HE needs to learn to be an American. You have money because you came to this country. You dirty fat slob!
    That sounds like a racist remark coming from a man who was not even born in this country. Sort of like that crazy birther woman with the heavy thick accent to go along with her braindead ideas.

    July 17, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Dave O!

    never once posted on CNN or Huff Post, or Drudge or anywhere but for Facebook and my local paper.. but, these freakin' republicans are really making me sick! Damn, the only good news America has had in the past 10 years is the killing of Bin Laden, and that was done on Obama's watch.. what the hell kinda world do these morons live ?? In what kind of world do they live? I'm po'd now!! OH YEAH!

    July 17, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. gutterboy

    Sununu is such a nut-job.

    July 17, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. kmac

    Romney never has given up his Mexican citizenship has he.

    July 17, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. So_Simple_Simon

    Al Gore invented the internet.

    Barry Obama created everthing else. He is a god. WOW!

    We will never be able to top that.


    July 17, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. chilly g

    this sununu guy is trying to say the president is not an amreican,i suggest he be careful because he is a arab
    and ounce the other republicans fine out he is arbs american the they will attack him,so sununu
    you better quite.

    July 17, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. California

    FACT: Sununu's IQ is 180

    July 17, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. Mark

    Tough sell. Barry has never been an American so it may be beyond his capacity to change.

    July 17, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. CNN; The Masters Of Spin

    Obambi has just made the "Gaffe of the Century" by saying successful businesses are only successful due to Government (Obama)......I am sick of paying taxes so people like Sniffit, Horse Badorties, & Lib can sit on thier Liberal, fat Democrat butts and do NOTTA while waiting and depending on Welfare, paid for by those of us who do work.......One day YOU who refuse to work and demand property and wealth which belongs to another, will stand before a Thrice Holy God and give account for what you have done or have failed to do; ......"If any would not work, neither should he eat." II Thess. 3:10b......However I do realize, most Liberals are far too inteligent to believe that God and the Bible are REAL!

    July 17, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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