It’s not only former New Hampshire governor John Sununu’s mouth that’s causing grief for the Romney campaign. A separate harsh anti-Obama comment has landed the Republican lieutenant governor of Virginia in hot water.
Romney surrogate Sununu immediately caused a firestorm Tuesday and almost immediately had to apologize when he remarked, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”
Also a former White House chief of staff during the administration of George H.W. Bush, Sununu made the comment in a conference call organized by the Romney campaign.
But a comment made by Lt. Gov Bill Bolling also drew condemnation from an association of mental health professionals.
“Lt. Governor Bill Bolling’s statement to the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va., saying that Obama voters should ‘check themselves into a mental hospital’ is an insult to all Virginians and all Americans— including active duty military personnel, veterans and people who actually live with mental illness,” say Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mira Signer, executive director of NAMI Virginia in a joint statement. “It is an outrageous, ignorant and prejudiced statement. It represents ‘stigma-slinging,’ one of the worst practices in American politics. One in four Americans experience mental health problems in any given year. Stigmatizing stereotypes and disparagement serve only to discourage people from seeking help when they need it.”
The NAMI leaders say Bolling’s remark is even more hurtful coming in the heart of Virginia’s military country.
“Made in the heart of Virginia’s military community, the Lt. Governor’s statement is especially disturbing at a time when the Pentagon is trying to eliminate any stigma imposed on returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan who may struggle with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other brain injuries,” the NAMI statement says. ‘Mental illness does not discriminate. It is non-partisan. It affects Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. NAMI is non-partisan. We do not endorse political candidates. However, we call on the Lt. Governor to apologize. Because the Lt. Governor is state chairman of the Romney presidential campaign, we also call on Governor Romney to disavow the statement and speak out forcefully against the stigma that traditionally surrounds mental illness.”