October 25th, 2012
10:34 PM ET
1 year 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. Michael Debinder

    Powell has very little credibility with me, he's a part of the BUSH debacle in Iraq, the very man who sat at the UN and held up a small vial of anthrax and told the American people that WMD's existed in Iraq. You don't get a free pass by saying later it was bad intelligence, because if you do then you have to also give BUSH a free pass. I for one do not get anymore of a warm and fuzzy about the President because Powell endorses him. But to the point of the story I do not believe that race has anything to do with his endorsement, his criticisms of Romney on foreign policy has merit.

    October 26, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  2. CharlesE

    More likely the fact that Colin Powell is NOT running for president on the Republican ticket is partly explained by race.

    October 26, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  3. Tabeth

    Hi Sununu,
    Would you explain how the 8% unemployment came to be? Why the REP party became to be known as a NO party? What was the agenda behind? Could Mitt bring the unemployment to 0%? Has he shipped Jobs to China? who benefited? Him or Americans? As a governor you should be balanced and knowlegeable

    October 26, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  4. Name Madrep

    Was race the reason? Nah, it was Obama's record!!!!

    October 26, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. Willie Floyd

    This guy is a first class jerk!! Can't believe he would speak ill of Gen. Powell-one of the most respected men in our country.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 26, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  6. Richard Hill

    Whites vote for Whites all the time and practically no one says its because of race. What makes this guy's charge so ridiculous is the person in question-Colin Powell. John is White, male, and probably in the top 1% and I don't think that he would be necessarily voting for Romney because of his race! Perception wise, maybe this is just the difference between "Black and White".

    October 26, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  7. Ruth

    SHAME on Sununu!!!!! Are you supporting Romney because he is WHITE? Or Geroge W. Bush supporting Romney because he is WHITE, just when this country takes a few steps forward, people like YOU say and do things that make it take many many steps backwards. I no longer value your opinion on anything that you have to say, and DO NOT RESPECT YOU AS AN AMERICAN OR A MAN!!

    October 26, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  8. acdcguy

    He chose race over America.........

    October 26, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  9. Pat Christian

    Given the respect accorded Colen Powell compared to John Sununu, Just like the person who he is working for Mitt Romney, John Sununu will say whatever he thinks will influence the target market. and if he thinks it will denigrate Mr. Powell by reminding his core consteuanated and others that "he's black", I believe America needs to wake up and taste the Kool-Aid that the GOP is trying to get you to drink.

    October 26, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  10. Andy

    Or, if you paid attention to Colin Powell's politics over the last 20 years, you would see his positions are right in line with Obama's. It funny how the race issue is always presented in a negative context. Powell has been holding on to the same beliefs while the Republican part has moved away from him. He is a Eisenhower Republican, which puts him right in line with President Obama.

    I would say Mitt Romney is racist but it's not the case, he simply has contempt for anyone who isn't himself and he will say whatever it takes to get a leg up on someone else. At least racists have some integrity.

    October 26, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  11. Bill Murray

    Why is it that when a black individual supports another black individual, it has to be relegated to an issue of race? By that token, can't George Bush's endorsement of Romney be construed as the same thing? And honestly, I wouldn't look at any endorsement from George Bush as a feather in one's cap anyway.

    October 26, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  12. Alton

    It was race , and that is understandable somewhat, but just admit it. Don't try to dance around it.

    October 26, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  13. DamnUfools

    Why don't you just try and face the truth Sununu? Powell's choice is based on commons sense, something a failed politician as you has very little of. Yur suggestion of race is nothing short of ignorant and racist in and of itself.

    October 26, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  14. Sickofitall

    So every white person who votes for Romney is only voting for him because he is white? Stupid minded people!!!!!!!

    October 26, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  15. Steve

    Powell is the lone remaining sane GOP authority figure. The rest have been bought by the Koch brothers and or brainwashed by the extremist end of the Prolife camp.

    October 26, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  16. vs101

    Race cannot be discounted as a factor, but to allude that it is the primary factor is a simple tactical ploy by republican attack dogs like Mr. Sununu to play the "race card" to stir up prejudiced white voters to turn up at the polls. I wonder what the republican base would think about Mr. Sununu's Arabic heritage.

    October 26, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  17. Craig

    This theory explains why so many idiots will be voting for Mitt Romney.

    October 26, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  18. dreucalypt

    While he was Secretary of State the Republican neocons set him up over Iraq. Sending him to the U.N. to say what they, but not he, knew were lies is bound to have a lasting effect.

    October 26, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  19. KB

    CNN, you are losing it. Hormones and voting, Health care decision a no from the Supreme Court, and this vacuous tome of GOP racist talking points. Journalism is supposed to involve a thought process, and integrity.

    October 26, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  20. eti

    CNN! You are biased! You didnt report the endorsement on the front page, why posting the rebuttal as a front page news? I have incontrovertible evidence that you've been bought.

    October 26, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  21. Mimi70

    So let me make sure I understand this... When one White man endorses another White man, it’s always solely based on political issues. However, when a Black man endorses another Black man, it’s done because they share the same race????????????? Really????? Did Mr. Sununu ever think that there are White people out there that are voting for Romney just because he is White???

    October 26, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  22. Old Hateful Greedy White men

    Romney's right hand bigot being a bigot, Imagine that... Now who's playing the game of race baiting?

    October 26, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  23. NeverChange

    This is so typical of the white race. Couldn't the reverse actually be said that most white people can't stomach a person of color in the white house so they typically vote "white" because of race. The undercover racism in America has shown it's ugly head from the day that President Obama decided to run. It's amazing to Black Americans who listen to White Americans say that racism doesn't exist and then to see the total disrespect for the POTUS because he is a person of COLOR.

    October 26, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  24. Robyn Guimont

    Is Sununu supporting Romney due to their shared race?

    Honestly, for him to claim the same for Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama is an insult. Maybe Powell supports Obama because he has quite a bit of military and foreign policy experience and he prefers Obama's policies over those of Romney. End of story.

    October 26, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  25. klingonj

    I think Sununu is voting for Romney because of his race (sounds bad doesnt it)

    October 26, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
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