The co-chair for Mitt Romney's national campaign on Tuesday said that campaign surrogate John Sununu had "issued a clarification" after saying that President Barack Obama should "learn how to be an American."

"Gov. Sununu made those comments earlier today," former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "He then clarified and walked back those statements by saying he meant that President Obama really doesn't have a familiarity with what it means to be in the American entrepreneurial and private enterprise system, early-stage capital formation deployment, and comments to that effect."

"So, I think he clarified it," Pawlenty added. "And obviously, Gov. Sununu has a knack for colorful language and can be very informative and entertaining. This one, he, you know, admitted perhaps he wasn't as clear as he should have been, and he issued a clarification. And I think that was appropriate under the circumstances."

In a conference call earlier in the day, Sununu blasted the Obama campaign as a "bunch of liars" for suggesting that Romney could have committed a felony if he lied to the Security and Exchange Commission about when he retired from Bain Capital.

"The president clearly demonstrated that he has absolutely no idea how the American economy functions," the former New Hampshire governor said. "The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build these businesses, their businesses from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world -- it is the American way."

"I wish this president would learn how to be an American," he added.

Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith later told reporters that Sununu's rhetoric was proof that Romney's campaign had grown desperate.

"The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end," Smith said. "The question is what else they’ll pull to avoid answering serious questions about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and investments in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts. This meltdown and over-the-top rhetoric won’t make things better -- it only calls attention to how desperate they are to change the conversation."

Watch this video from MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, broadcast July 17, 2012.