New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu's refusal to join the nation's 49 other governors in signing a proclamation condemning a U.N. resolution that equates Zionisn with racism is becoming a political hot potato. The Republican governor has been criticized by Jewish organizations, editorial writers and political opponents.
Sununu, of Lebanese descent, said he refuses to sign the proclamation because of his role in Middle East peace talks as the nation's highest elected Arab American. Sununu said his position in Middle East discussions primarily revolves around his membership in the National Association of Arab Americans.
The proclamation also has been endorsed by Congress, President Reagan and Vice President Bush, who asked Sununu, his New Hampshire chairman, to sign it.
The New Hampshire chairman for Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), Charles Douglas, has called on Bush to "personally repudiate the outrageous statements" of Sununu. Douglas challenged Sununu's claim that he was an important player in the Mideast peace process. Douglas asked Bush, as head of the National Security Council, if he "authorized our state's governor to be a loose cannon in international negotiations."
Sununu said he did not think his position will hurt Bush, adding, "I would certainly hope that people wouldn't take an issue like this and extrapolate it to Vice President Bush."