Last week, in the midst of swirling questions about Mitt Romney's private-sector background, there was one line in particular the Republican campaign seized on. Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for President Obama's re-election team, raised the specter of Romney having committed a "felony" with misstatements in his SEC filings.
Cutter wasn't alone -- even fact-checkers siding with Romney had raised the same point -- but Republicans pounced. For the Obama campaign to even mention "felonies" was proof, they said, of viciousness. It's precisely why Romney asked for an "apology."
That was a few days ago. When we compare Cutter's comment to the latest tirade from former Gov. John Sununu, arguably Romney's top campaign surrogate, let's just say it puts a new spin on who might owe whom an apology.
For those who can't watch clips online, Sununu, in an unhinged attack, told reporters, "I wish this president would learn how to be an American." The quote was in direct reference to the ridiculous, out-of-context talking point we discussed this morning.
Sununu, who has a well-deserved reputation as a GOP loudmouth, also said this morning the president "has no idea how the American system functions," in part because "he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something." (Update: Sununu also went berserk on Fox.)
Remember, this is one of Romney's top surrogates, speaking on behalf of the candidate himself. The intensity of the over-the-top vitriol, following staff shake-ups, and hastily thrown together interviews, also reinforces the perception that the Romney campaign is feeling a sense of desperation and losing its composure.
For its part, the Obama campaign issued a statement, quoting spokesperson Lis Smith saying in response to Sununu, "The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end."
Update: Hoping to walk back some of his nonsense, Sununu later said, "What I thought I said but what I didn't say is the president has to learn the American formula for creating business."