The Campaign Spot

Sununu: Obama Should Return About 70 Percent of His Salary

I just spoke to John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush, who’s bringing his legendarily genteel and diplomatic nature to assist the Romney campaign as a surrogate.

On the Obama campaign’s “official” kickoff this weekend:

“If you look at what [President Obama] has done since last September, he really ought to return about 70 percent of his salary to the American taxpayers, since about 70 percent of his time has been spent campaigning. I assume with the official start of his campaign, it will move to 100 percent. He clearly has a strategy of talking about everything but what people want to hear, which is how he’s going to create jobs and how he’s going to get the economy moving. Instead he’s on a mission to hype himself, and blame everybody else.”

On Romney’s current standing in the polls:

“Right now, Governor Romney is still in the process of bringing the rest of the conservatives in the Republican party and the independents back together. Those are the ones who will recognize that they don’t want Barack Obama back again, and the only way to make that happen is to vote for Romney. Right now, as you look at the polls, there are still about 13 percent of Republicans who are not yet giving their vote to Governor Romney. So in a sense, Obama’s in even worse shape than he appears, because Governor Romney will eventually pick up most of those Republicans who are not supporting him right now, and most of those independents.”

On the latest unemployment numbers:

“I recommend people go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics table A-15. It talks about the other ways of calculating unemployment. There are two very interesting ones, one is U-5 and one is U-6. U-5 takes the recently discouraged workers and adds them to the total, and it’s 9.5 percent this month. Then U-6 takes people who have left the workforce for other reasons and that one’s at 14.5 percent. So there are a whole host of unemployment numbers that are readily available to the public, that people ought to start looking at on a monthly basis and talking about and recognizing what a disaster — what an unmitigated, incompetent disaster this president has been.”

On reaching voters who may not be paying attention as closely as primary voters:

“Remember there’s about 25 million unhappy people at home. Really unhappy people, who have no jobs or who are dramatically under-employed. You don’t have to work hard to get them to pay attention to the real issue in this election cycle.”

On the business community and the election:

“This over-regulation that has come out of the Obama administration has created a climate in this country where the business community has more cash than at any other time in history and yet they are not spending it to create jobs, because they are petrified that Barack Obama might get reelected. The minute it is clear, one way or the other, they will decide where to spend that money. If it looks like Romney’s going to win, they will spend that money to create jobs in America; if it looks like Obama is going to win, they’ll spend that money creating jobs somewhere else.”

On Obama’s trip to Afghanistan this week:

“That was the self-aggrandizement tour for the Obama administration. The president finally discovered that one of the responsibilities of the presidency is to make decisions. After avoiding decisions on how to deal with entitlement reform, after avoiding decisions on the budget — no budget for three years! — avoiding decisions on how to cut spending, avoiding decisions on how to deal with some of the serious issues like what’s going on in Syria and the Iran issue lurking out there as well . . . After going three and a half years without making any serious decisions except shoving Obamacare down people’s throats, the president made one more decision. And it was a slam-dunk decision in my opinion, in my opinion, having been in the White House and having seen how a real president operates. He makes a slam-dunk decision and now wants to brag about having discovered how to make a decision. I find it a little bit demeaning to those who did the hard work: the intelligence community that put thousands if not millions of bits of information together to find out where Osama bin Laden was, and the extremely skilled and truly brave young men and women who were involved and in the SEAL teams. The angry reactions you’re hearing from the SEALs underscores how unseemly it was for the president to do those interviews, saying ‘Look at me, I finally made a decision, aren’t I wonderful.’”

On life as a surrogate for the campaign, and whether he’s one of the designated attack dogs:

“I am like the old crazy uncle that [the campaign] calls on every once in a while. (laughter) When they need some strong clarity, they have me do some television and radio. The county is in such desperate straits right now, instead of sitting at home and watching everyone else do it, I told them I’d be an active part of whatever they need.”

On whether he’s freer to speak more pugnaciously than other Romney surrogates who are still in elected office:

“That would be a more valid thesis if I had been any different when I was in office. Life is too short to be . . . too subtle at times.”

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