Top Romnney surrogate John Sununu is in the news for comments related to the president’s race. Again.
This time it was Sununu’s claim that Colin Powell, like Sununu an important figure in the George H.W. Bush administration, endorsed Obama this week because they both are black and not because of the president’s record.
“Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him,” Sununu told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
Earlier this month he drew Andrea Mitchell’s ire on MSNBC for calling Obama “lazy” after the first presidential debate.
That was nothing compared to the rampage he went on in July, when he gave a series of interviews highlighting Obama’s teen drug use and questioning just how truly American he is because of his upbringing.
“He has no idea how the American system functions,” Sununu said on Fox News. “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.”
Later the same day he told reporters, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.” He later apologized for that line, but not for raising Obama’s drug use or home state.
John Sununu is one of Romney’s highest profile surrogates, with regular national TV appearances and a cantankerous style and colorful language which ensure that reporters will get a strong quote for the campaign’s favored topic of the day. But Sununu’s schtick brings with it an unpredictability and shock value that often associates Romney with the darkest elements of the anti-Obama movement.
The latest episode comes right as Romney is entering the most critical period of a close race, one in which he’s selling himself as a calm, reasonable alternative to the president. At least some Republicans are unhappy with Sununu’s latest riff. Republican strategist Ana Navarro suggested the campaign may be better served putting Sununu on ice until after Nov 6.
With race this close & only 11 days to go, it’s all about not making unforced errors. For Romney side, this meansbanning Sununu from TV— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) October 26, 2012
It’s possible the Romney campaign is taking that advice to heart. NPR reporter Ari Shapiro tweeted on Friday morning that Sununu abruptly canceled a radio interview.
Sununu just bailed on a scheduled @nprweekend interview. The Romney campaign offered the CEO of Hardee’s in his place.— Ari Shapiro (@Ari_Shapiro) October 26, 2012
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.