Romney Surrogate Says Obama Should "Learn to Be an American"

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu says he "thought" he said something else.

Posted: 07/18/2012 10:40 AM EDT
Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu says Obama should "learn to be an American."

John Sununu, a Mitt Romney surrogate and national campaign co-chair, is known for his no-holds-barred manner, but this week may have gone too far. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, the former New Hampshire governor levied the mother of all insults on President Obama — and more.

Responding to Obama's attacks on Romney's business background and unwillingness to provide more than two years of tax returns, Sununu said Obama doesn't understand how business or the economy work and basically said that the president is un-American.

"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," he said. "It is the American way, and I wish this president would learn how to learn how to be an American."

He later walked back on the statement, claiming that what he'd intended to say "is that the president has to learn the American formula for creating business." And in an interview on CNN he said, "I'm apologizing for using those words. I did say those words that were there and, frankly, I made a mistake."

But that wasn't the only disparaging remark Sununu made that day. He called the Obama campaign "stupid" for calling on Romney to provide additional tax returns and in an appearance on Fox News, the former White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush suggested that the president comes from a corrupt background.

"He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn't be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, and another set of years in Indonesia," he said. "And, frankly, when he came to the U.S, he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago."

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is reportedly on Romney's vice presidential short list, said on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports that it was "appropriate" for Sununu to clarify his remarks, adding that Sununu "has a knack for colorful language and can be very informative and entertaining."

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith had a colorful response of her own.

"The Romney campaign has 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," she said. "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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