October 25th, 2012
10:34 PM ET
2 years ago

Sununu cites race as factor for Powell’s Obama endorsement

(CNN) - John Sununu, a top surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, said Thursday that Colin Powell’s repeat endorsement of President Barack Obama could be explained partly by the two men’s shared race.

Speaking on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” Sununu downplayed the importance of the former secretary of state’s endorsement, pointing to the support Romney’s received from former President George H.W. Bush. He went on to explain that Powell’s endorsement of Obama didn’t rely solely on the political issues at hand.

"When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to look at whether that's an endorsement based on issues or he's got a slightly different reason for endorsing President Obama," Sununu said, adding: "I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."

Later, Sununu released a statement saying "Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President's policies."

Sununu also pointed to Morgan's original question, which was whether Powell should leave the Republican Party.

"I don't think he should," Sununu wrote.

Powell, who served as the first African American secretary of state under President George W. Bush, made his endorsement earlier Thursday, citing a number of issues not related to race as reasons he was backing Obama for a second time.

The Republican said he believe the economy is "starting to pick up" and attributed the recovery to the president's polices, citing specifically the auto industry bailout and Obama's economic proposals. "Generally we've come out of the dive and we're starting to gain altitude," he said.

Powell said he was "uncomfortable" with Romney's tax plans and views on foreign policy. Pointing to Monday night's final presidential debate, Powell argued the GOP nominee had changed positions on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former secretary of state said he was concerned with the advice Romney was getting from campaign staff.

"I think there are some very, very strong neo-conservative views that are presented by the governor that I have some trouble with," Powell said, though he did not elaborate on which views.

"I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars," he said.

Powell made headlines when the former George W. Bush administration official, who also worked for President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, crossed party lines and supported Obama last cycle.

CNN's Jim Acosta contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Colin Powell • John Sununu • President Obama
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    If it's a black individual supporting another black individual, the support is generally attributed to race. Why don't we here the same reasoning when it's a white individual supporting another white individual?

    October 26, 2012 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  2. Mark

    If Powell believes in Obamas policies, why would he continue to call himself a republican ???? Everything Obama stands for is anti republican, so Mr. Powell should change parties and be honest about his beliefs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't have it both ways Colin ??? Or maybe YOU can , but most folks cannot and live with themselves ???

    October 26, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  3. EnoughAlready

    If a black individual supports another black individual, then the support is due to race. Yet, ff a white individual supports another white individual, race has nothing to do with it. Should we say Sununu and Bush support Romney because he's white?

    October 26, 2012 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  4. Notsurpised

    Sunuunu pulls the race card! Not suprising. This is why we have race issues in this country today. White folks just cannot let it die.

    October 26, 2012 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  5. Big Munny

    Why all the emphasis on race at the last minute? Powell gave clear, rational reasons for his decision. Without any evidence whatsoever, Sununu reaches into his back pocket and pulls out race, which is suddenly becoming the question in other articles as well. It has been obvious for at least a minute or two that the President is of mixed race. It is equally obvious by now that Romney has not released his tax returns, is shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, and is a brazen flip-flopper. Powell could have mentioned any of those as his reasons but he didn't, most likely because the reasons he gave were the real ones prompting his decision. Sununu looks past all other possibilities and pulls race out of his back pocket. Pandering to racism at this late hour seems like a sign of desperation. Is this the best October surprise they can pull off? Pitiful.

    October 26, 2012 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  6. Dann DFW

    So by extending the logic Bush's endorsement of Romney is partially based on race as well????

    October 26, 2012 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  7. Joe in Kalispell

    It was race based. He's not that stupid to vote for a loser otherwise.

    October 26, 2012 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  8. Ron Spears

    Let us now play the race card. Never mind about all those white guys who vote against Obama for no other reason than he is black. I know some of them. they are real.

    October 26, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  9. carly

    sununu shouldn't talk about race. He is one of the biggest racist around.

    October 26, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  10. bess moore

    The reason these religious fools want Obama out is because he's black! They skirt around the issue but racism is the reason. Romney was their worst pick. The man (?) is more of an idiot than Bush #2! God help us! Racism IS alive and growing in America! How sad!

    October 26, 2012 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  11. Namejkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    CNN ,why do you keep puting this gop romney stooge on national tv to insult. The American public .this unamerican hick from new Hampshire is exactly what's wrong with American and shows who will be runing the USA if the goofball romney gets elected with his 17 bush advisors. A vote for romney the tax cheat is a vote to screw your own families , Obama all the way the gop is just plain disgusting and unamerican !!!!

    October 26, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  12. American Indian

    Well, at least 1 Republican makes use of common sense. "Will the real mitt Romney please step forward?".

    October 26, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  13. Brandy

    Sununu uses race for Powells endorsement yet he failed to mention Powell endorsed Obamas policies and Romney chgd his mind on several issues and he is uncomfortable with tha. powell is well respected and a great statesman then to have Sununu use Race card is disrespectful and highly intelligent

    October 26, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Now that this dimwit has let the republican cat out of the bag on their real agenda, its all about race.

    October 26, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  15. Brandy

    Sununuu is unintelligent and failed to mention Obamas policies are working

    October 26, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  16. 1968billsfan

    Uh, the war in Iraq was going to wind down regardless of who the president was. Obama did a "surge" in Afgan and increased the troops there from 20K (and shrinking) to 80-100K. The previous course of action would have had us out of there completely 2 years ago. We went from 30 dead a year in Afgan to 300 dead a year. Powell was a military man but doesn't seem to be able to remember this. Sorry, but his suport is because of the color or Obama's skin.

    October 26, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  17. Mohammed Murad

    Mr. Sununu should be asshemed of making a comment and injecting race into the conversation. Colin Powell is smarter than endorsing President because of race. So Mr. Sununu is endorsing Mr. Romney because he is white or he is potentially a good candidate. I am asshemed of Republican Party to have spokes man inject race into a very important and vital election.

    October 26, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  18. MollyBee

    Once again, a 'higher up' in the GOP lets the nation know how shallow, mean and ugly that Party has become.

    October 26, 2012 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  19. adinfinitum7

    I guess Powell couldn't have decided that Obama is the better candidate. Had to be race. Or maybe, as he said, the radical Right has taken over the Republicons and Powell doesn't believe rape is God's will.

    October 26, 2012 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  20. REDFIRESTORM

    Considering what powell should know about obama, some people would probably believe powell decided to trade party for racial loyalty.

    October 26, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  21. smc

    Because obviously it was not that, basically career ending, WMD presentation he was pushed into giving at the UN that has tainted his view of Republicans. No, it must be race.

    October 26, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  22. Philip

    Powell is a great leader, who was corrupted by Bush. But for personal family health issues, should have been POTUS!

    Sununu played the race card and then tried to take it back! Mission accomplished.

    I really hope Romney wins. America desires to face its racial legacy once and for all. Then we can began to truly heal, in our hearts.

    October 26, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  23. REDFIRESTORM

    Sununu is way too high profile to be so free with his thoughts in public ear, but the man processes information well. Remember when he called obama lazy? Remember the public uproar? Well, sununu probably put obama's response to barbara walters and his performance during the first debate together. Works for me.

    October 26, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  24. Thomas

    @John Sununu, top surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, said Thursday that Colin Powell’s repeat endorsement of President Barack Obama could be explained partly by the two men’s shared race.
    -----

    Powell said he was "uncomfortable" with Romney's tax plans and views on foreign policy. Pointing to Monday night's final presidential debate, Powell argued the GOP nominee had changed positions on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former secretary of state said he was concerned with the advice Romney was getting from campaign staff.

    "I think there are some very, very strong neo-conservative views that are presented by the governor that I have some trouble with," Powell said, though he did not elaborate on which views.

    "I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars," he said.

    October 26, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  25. Jessie

    What an offensive remark by Sununu.

    Powell's endorsement of Obama is because he believes he's the right person for the job not because they share the same amount of melanin.

    When will we finally get over our non-stop, ridiculous preoccupation with skin color?

    October 26, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
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