— The combative and blunt-speaking John Sununu woke up Illinois' GOP delegation on the final day of the Republican National Convention by tossing some major broadsides at President Barack Obama, even suggesting that convicted influence-peddler Antoin "Tony" Rezko could help the Democrat purchase a new home after a Nov. 6 defeat.
A former New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, Sununu spent 20 minutes Thursday speaking as a surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Sununu used the time to blast Obama as "inept" and "incompetent."
"Are there folks here from Chicago?" Sununu asked the delegation. "You ought to go into the real estate business because there's a guy who's got a lot of friends who are coming, that's coming back to look for a house next January. Maybe Tony Rezko can help him again."
An Obama fundraiser, Rezko bought a vacant lot next to Obama's Kenwood home at the same time the future president got a mortgage to buy his residence. Rezko later sold a portion of the lot to Obama. In 2008, Rezko was convicted of corruption associated with now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and was sentenced to 101/2 years in federal prison. Obama has said the real estate dealings were "a lapse in judgment."
Sununu contended that Obama has failed to bring the country together as he promised during his 2008 campaign.
"Can you imagine a president who made promises to unite who has failed so badly and who has, in such an unethical way, promoted class warfare and racial tension?" Sununu said. "You really think as clumsy as he is that Joe Biden's comments on chains were an accident?"
The vice president came under criticism recently for saying Republicans want to put voters "back in chains" if the GOP releases Wall Street from restrictions.
Moreover, Sununu called Obama an "incompetent man, who has been campaigning for a year without really working in the White House," preferring to play golf rather than meet with his job-creation council.
"In an odd way, that's what this election may be all about: competence over charm packaged in an inept president," Sununu said.
Third time? State Sen. Bill Brady, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor two years ago, met with delegates Thursday morning after arriving from an anniversary celebration in New York with his wife, Nancy. The senator from Bloomington said a decision on making a third bid for the office would "probably" come in January.
Brady spent Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in a suite sponsored by the Republican Governors Association, which pumped millions of dollars in TV advertising into his losing bid against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010. While there, Brady said he received some encouraging words from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
"Jeb Bush said it to me, he said, 'You know, Bill, I don't know if you're going to run again. But I'll tell you, strangely as it seems, I wouldn't have won the second time if I didn't lose the first,'" Brady recalled. "He said in big states like Illinois and Florida, people need to get to know you and if they don't know you, when people attack you, it sticks. So it's important that I continue to get to know people, if that's what I want to do."
Ironing: Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who hosted the Wednesday night post-convention delegation party, couldn't resist another shot at the late-arriving buses that marked the convention's first day Tuesday.
"I'm so glad you're still awake, for gosh sakes," Topinka said. "I don't think most of you went to bed before 3 in the morning — and it wasn't even because of the bus."
Topinka also said she had been asked if she had a better appreciation for Romney because he can iron his own shirts. "Yes, I can relate to that," said Topinka, adding she didn't know how to iron. "My mother always told me, don't ever learn how or otherwise you're going to get stuck doing it forever."
That prompted state GOP Chairman Pat Brady to say, "One of the first jobs in prison is the laundry room. Maybe Rod Blagojevich is ironing shirts today."
Added the party chairman: "Hey, you can't go a whole convention without a Blagojevich joke."
Santorum pledge: The Illinois Republicans cast all their nominating votes in Tampa for Romney, but he and Rick Santorum waged a fierce March primary battle around the state, and 12 of the 69 delegates on hand in Tampa were pledged to Santorum until he released them last week.
On Thursday morning, Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford invited Santorum Illinois campaign director Jon Zahm to lead the delegation in the Pledge of Allegiance, a move Zahm said he appreciated but didn't need in order to feel welcomed by the Romney supporters.
"We had a hard-fought campaign here. There could be bitter feelings held, but I haven't experienced them. I haven't felt disregarded," Zahm said.
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