OTR Interviews

Sununu: Obama administration 'wants to inflict pain on the public ... president knows nothing about leadership'

Democratic congressman complains about no towel service in House gym while Americans and fallen veterans' families feel very real pain from partial suspension of government services


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 9, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: If you thought Congress could not handle the shutdown any worse, well, think again. Last night, we pointed out in my "Off the Record" commentary that the World War II Memorial is closed but the gym in the House of Representatives is open.


VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama has the authority to open the monument and Speaker Boehner has the authority to close the gym. Whether either does exercise his authority to do the right thing now speaks very loudly, doesn't it?


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if you think that's bad, listen to this.


REP. BRUCE BRALEY, D-IOWA: They must not have been down to the gym lately. There are hardly -- there is hardly anybody working down there. There is no towel service.


BRALEY: No. So we are doing our own laundry down there.


BRALEY: And we pay a fee to belong to the House gym.


VAN SUSTEREN: Anyone in Washington using any common sense?

Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu joins us.

Good evening, Governor. Nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well.

Governor, that was Representative Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Iowa. And they do pay some fee to the gym, members of the House, but they don't fully support it. It's not, you know, complete pay. Your thoughts about this?

SUNUNU: Look, let me touch on the outrage that you touched on with Senator Scott. It is unbelievable that this administration let that happen. And it is not an accident. The administration gave the signal under sequester to make things as difficult as possible for the public. The message went clearly out to the park service to make it as painful as possible. And so some consummate bureaucrat in the DOD sees that he can misinterpret a law that was to make sure that what happened did not happen. And it all comes from messages, signals and body language from the president. And the president is responsible.

Now, to the towel incident, this is insane.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk to you.

SUNUNU: A Democratic congressman --

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk to you for a second about that.

SUNUNU: Go ahead.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say misinterpret the law. On October 1st, if that's when they spotted the law, that's when they should have gone to the president. That's when the president should have done something. And what they have done now is the House passed a bill. The Senate doesn't want to do piecemeal. The president is trying to bail him out by going to a private organization to do a contract. It is now October 9th. The American people learned about it yesterday on October 8th. They started putting the heat on in getting this changed. Nobody did it on October 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. There is a lot of reason to be outraged. Anyway, your turn.

SUNUNU: This is an administration that wants to inflict pain on the public. And shame on them for picking on people like the families of our soldiers that have passed away.

Look, this president knows nothing about leadership. If you want bipartisanship in Washington, the leadership has to come from the White House. Clinton did it on welfare reform. Reagan did it on Social Security. I worked for a president that knew he was going to pay tremendously politically when he led on getting a multi-year budget. I had to go down and do the details for him. But the president insisted that that budget be completed. And that is leadership.

This president is petulant. Is he great for saying nonnegotiable or drawing red lines or I'm not going to sit down and talk to them? It's a disgrace.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to get to the towel remark that this congressman made. Any thoughts about that, that apparently there is a little bit of complaining about this gym situation on the Hill.

SUNUNU: You know, the fee they pay is butt-covering fee. They don't want to be accused by the taxpayer of getting a free gym so they pay about $10 or $20 a month so they can go down to the gym. And his whining about the towel in light of the hardships that lots of folks around the country have been forced to live under is ridiculous. The president and this congressman and their Democratic friends in the House and their Democrats friends in the Senate have to understand that the system is built on checks and balances. And that means to solve problems, you have got to compromise.

Come to the table, Mr. President and solve the problem for America,

VAN SUSTEREN: And on the other side, Speaker Boehner could pull the plug on that gym until the shutdown is done. But I'm going to take the last word on that.

Governor, thank you. Always nice to see you.

SUNUNU: Thank you.