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. n

    Mr Obama is a true American paying his taxes. While romney hide all his money outside the country so That he does not have to pay taxes shame on u Republican and Romney

    July 17, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. ART

    Well if being more American means trying to bankrupt our nation by hiding our net worth in foreign banks to negate taxes then I for one am glad that President Obama is who he is.

    July 17, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Greg

    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama

    Obama is as clueless.

    July 17, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |

    Really.....This is what he said? Seems to me that that is the Fox News Sound bite that you've posted there....why not post what he said in its entirety....which was something like..

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    Stop with the Fox News...Rush Limbaugh sound bites....

    Obama was stating that Government helps clear the way for Businesses to Thrive.......

    Now Romney....he paves they way for businesses to die....THATS INSULTING!!

    July 17, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. rj

    WOW – I didn't know this guy was still around or that anyone would use him for anything.

    America has 313+M citizens – who decides who's an American. The comment is somewhat racist tinged – I know I know the racist card but when it's true it's true.

    July 17, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Bravo333

    Obama's tirades against business and job creaters is going to be his undoing. He has a blind spot and can't see the bow wave that will hit if he continues to turn one American against another. Pity.

    July 17, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Anthony

    Romney should learn how to be a presidential candidate. First thing Romney needs to do is to release all of his tax returns, like all other presidential candidates.

    July 17, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Larry L


    Obama is a European socialist, not really American in the true sense of the word.
    Put on your sheet and pointy hat. It's time to go the cross-burning... The President is a dedicated American and your xenophobic comment is completely unpatriotic and clearly motivated by a deep sense of rascism. The "typical" American is not a fat, white, right-wing radical... that's the typical neo-conservative.

    July 17, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Pam from Iowa

    Sununu ?? Isnt that a Muslim surname?

    July 17, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. oh ooooo! Oooops!

    ps: since when is it UN-American to beleive that a strong middle class means a strong USA? Since when is the USA anti-strong middle class? Since when is it UN-American to invest in GROWING sectors? Since when is it UN-America to protect the vulnerable against exploits of big corporations?

    OH YEAH. THAT'S RIGHT!!!! Since OBAMA, the-son-of-Kenyan-Alien sent to America to send-everyone-to-college said so!!!!

    July 17, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Taylor


    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama

    Obama is as clueless.

    Turn off of FOX, they only played part of the speech. You are clueless when to turn to FOX........

    July 17, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. macrasta

    so the GOP is going back to this since they are under fire @ Mitt's taxes...

    July 17, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Mack

    Give us your poor, your tired and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Maybe we should tear down the Statue of Liberty and replace her with a gigantic neon dollar sign and a plaque that reads, "I've got mine, screw you".

    July 17, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Bravo333

    Anthony – release 2 years of tax returns like Kerry did?

    July 17, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  14. Af

    Wow! I think the Republican party groups the most idiots politicians around the party. What is that means: Learn to be an american? My first grade child won't repeat that. You are so danm Sunuru. Go away

    July 17, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Dean

    The Obama's are truely a disgrace to the White House.

    July 17, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. Jinx

    Always remember FOX is not a news channel and incidents such as this are clear proof...lies and distortion are the policies at FOX not true reporting and they should be sooo ashamed but they have absolutely no shame like their leader Romney and the owner Murdoch who is not even an American so he doesn't really care what he reports in America or Britian or anywhere...perhaps they should both be in jail!

    July 17, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Jim Hahn

    Romney should understand what is meant by the greater good. He and his ilk, are all for themselves, screw anyone that gets hurt, I get what I want. Oh yeah, I'm not paying taxes.

    July 17, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. ART

    How incompetent must you be if it takes you 3 years to get your name of FCC paperwork for a major corporation, just imagine how long it would take if Romney was elected President in 2008 for a recovery to happen we still might be calling Bush President

    July 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. The Government know's what is best for you

    Businesses thrive in spite of Government Mr. Obama, The Government has no money all thier money is ours the tax payer's. Your little quote about people not working hard in businesses and all success is luck" you just lost all business owners vote.

    July 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. judy

    this guy is of no use or importance. Romney is a creep and trying to distract from baine and his tax returns, Talk about un american ! Swiss bank account and money in the caymens. Right. Obama 2012

    July 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. incredulous

    It's telling isn't it that Republicans can only come up with insults when faced with things like the truth. Why aren't they running on their records?

    July 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Greg

    Taylor....you've got it wrong....I do not watch fox....some lame brain wrote that fox comment...my comment is underneath the fox comment.....

    July 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Brook

    This did not work 4 years ago and it won't work know. We are smarter....... Suninu is a fat old white man that wamts the America people to think like him. Most of the people does not......for you to say that about our President tells us something about you. Suck it up Obama will have another 4 years.

    July 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. ZedATL

    Yeah yeah, right on Sununu! So, about those tax returns...?

    July 17, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Dixie Normous

    The comments from the left are hilarious!!! The way they pick and choose which "facts" they want to use to support their socialist beliefs is mind boggling. Oh, they are facts all right, but I have yet to see one that gives the full story behind those facts. If they did, in most cases their facts would not support them, but the opposition. No wonder none of them on here have any credibility.

    July 17, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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