Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu told CNN that he misspoke when he said President Obama needs to “learn to be an American” Tuesday. But he let stand his comments that Obama doesn’t understand America because of his teenage drug use and his time as a grade-schooler in Indonesia.
Sununu said his “learn to be an American” was an error.
“Frankly I made a mistake,” he said. “I shouldn’t have used those words. And I apologize for using those words, but I don’t apologize for the idea that this president has demonstrated that he does not understand how jobs are created in America.”
But Sununu was less apologetic over comments he made the same day on Fox News that seemed to directly question Obama’s American roots.
“He has no idea how the American system functions,” Sununu told FOX News Tuesday morning. “And we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent … another set of years in Indonesia.”
On CNN Tuesday afternoon, however, Sununu did not indicate he had any regrets over the comment. Instead, he pivoted to another attack on Obama.
“The president has to stop denigrating American values,” he said. “He makes success a terrible thing. He’s sending the wrong message to the American people that if you’re rich, you’re somehow evil.”
Sununu said Obama has “created a feeling amongst entrepreneurs that he’s not a capitalist,” when asked about a Romney supporter who suggested the president was promoting socialism in a campaign call. But Sununu denied that he calling the president a socialist.
“I didn’t say he was a socialist,” he said. “But what I’m telling you is he ought to be worried that he’s making small business people feel that way.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.