A top Mitt Romney supporter went on a rampage against President Obama Tuesday morning, bringing up his teenage drug use and urging him to “learn how to be an American.”
John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and a leading Romney surrogate, told reporters that Obama’s recent defense of public infrastructure shows he “doesn’t understand how America works.”
“I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” Sununu said later.
Sununu tamped that suggestion down later in the call, without taking back his previous line, clarifying that his broader point was that “the president has to learn what the American formula for creating business and jobs in America is.”
Asked by a reporter about his initial comment, Sununu said, “the American formula for creating business is not to have the government create business,” but to “create a climate in which entrepreneurs could thrive. … If I didn’t give all that detail, I apologize.”
Sununu also said that if Obama campaign aides were suggesting Romney may have committed a felony by misleading on SEC filings and public disclosures, Obama should be judged by his past relationship with Tony Rezko, a supporter who was later convicted of fraud.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Sununu alluded to Obama’s use of marijuana as a teenager in Hawaii, a period of his life that Obama has admitted to, and which was recently explored by Obama biographer David Maraniss in a book. Sununu also bluntly suggested that Obama’s time abroad as a grade-schooler might have made him less American.
“He has no idea how the American system functions,” Sununu said on Fox News Tuesday. “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.”
A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, Lis Smith, characterized Sununu’s comments as a “meltdown.”
“The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end,” Smith said in a statement. “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. 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.”
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.