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. leftover

    "Later, Sununu released a statement…"
    But not before he got out the old dog whistle…AGAIN!
    I hate to agree with Bill Maher, but his assessment of Sununu is spot on. He has no shame. Today's Party of Lincoln has The Great Emancipator spinning in his grave.

    October 26, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  2. mark

    General Powell, an American hero, but lost his mojo with the claims of WMD in front of Congress. We believed you once, you and your team led us into war and you all were wrong. Who knows if race played a part in his choice here, but anytime 95%+ of a race votes for one person there is overall racism at play. Funny how the media talks about racism for Romney but excuses the blatant black racism for Obama.

    October 26, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Black racism is rampant – imagine if 95% of whites supported the white candidate.

    October 26, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  4. DK-1

    I am extremely disappointed in CNN. That you would ask a question such as this puts you more in the league of
    a Rush Limbaugh than a creditable news organization. Colin Powell is a very respected American patriot and
    you make a decision to pose a question just to generate controversy for your network.

    October 26, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  5. Mosesthejew

    Perhaps mitt and don are bedfellows because they are members of the 1% Club. 1% Club members have the 1% of ideas that are relevant in the 21st Century!

    October 26, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  6. mel cooper

    i think it was stupid for mr.sununu to say that he applauds someone for supporting someone based on race.

    October 26, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  7. sellsword

    Perhaps he endorsed BO in hopes of an appointment if he wins...

    BO won't win so it will not matter.

    It is an interesting point that he has been with BO twice...

    The last time was maybe understandable but this time it's clear that BO doesn't cut it and that makes Powell's endorsement look weird...

    October 26, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  8. Sdwoo

    Race has nothing to do with Powell's decision. President Obama is the best fit for the job. I notice that nothing is said when a Caucasian endorses another Caucasian. Double standard is it? Obama 2012

    October 26, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  9. AaronT3

    As a Veteran, Father, Husband, Student I can say President Obama's "race" had and has absolutely no bearing on my decision to vote for him. I voted for President Obama SOLELY based on his actions. President Obama from day one of graduating from Harvard Law, has worked to increase and improve the quality of life for America. I voted for him because of his character, integrity, and compassion demonstrated consistently through action not just words. Now as an African American the fact that he has never spoken divisively about race made me love him even more. President Obama gets it, they are not White, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, nor Polka-Dot issues there's only AMERICAN issues. I cringe when I hear supposedly African American Leaders speak about "Black" issues there are no "Black" issues there are only AMERICAN issues! President Obama is an AWESOME President and may God Bless him continually.

    October 26, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  10. Ewafula

    So doers that mean Sununu's endorsement of Mitty is based on their shared race?

    October 26, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  11. Michael

    It's funny how often the white elitist powers that be and their bumpkin base claim that racism NEVER has anything to do with opposition to Obama, even when you point out tea partiers with racist signs... and yet Powell HAS to be motivated by race in order to still support Obama. The fact of the matter is, Powell is one of a nearly extinct breed of republican moderates who doesn't have a foaming hatred for anyone with a D beside their name, and who is able to look past his own party affiliation and towards what's best for this country.

    October 26, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  12. Thor

    Do ya think? hmmmmmm based race? Duh!

    October 26, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  13. FalseLeftRight

    When will the rest of you Obama Bots wake up and realize that "hope" was just a marketing scam. Hey Romney is a scam too, but atleast you see that.

    October 26, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  14. Vinnie May

    I guess his analysis doesn't apply to the white race!? Wow really... white people have been voting for their kind since the beginning of this so called democracy. That's why their are more whites in our government.

    October 26, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  15. Tom Joad

    Sununu is just another neocon-job artist-many of whom should be in prison for their involvement in the Bush administration. This type of race baiting is why much of the rest of the world hates us. And I don't blame them. Thugs like Limbaugh,Cheney, Trump, Sununu-a national disgrace.

    October 26, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  16. danita

    Nothing but race... But who really cares... This is no different than 4 years ago other than Powell knows now obama is a big fat liar, but I grew up with blacks and I know how this works... It's no different that Jesse Jackson hates Obama, but will vot for him, unless Hillery was running.

    October 26, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  17. GABC

    I find it sad and disturbing the the race issue is even discussed.

    October 26, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  18. Berto

    First let me state that I am a Florida Republican and come from a very conservative family; but with that said Sununu is an idiot for even assuming race played any part in Mr.Powell's endorsement of the President, it questions the very intelligence of Mr.Powell; The truth is that electing Mitt is like playing a game of Russian roulette with his flip flops on most things and his basics on Foreign Policy how can we take such huge risk at this time? Now back to Powell he agrees with me and other moderate republicans that the President so far has done good things for middle class families and small business.

    Abraham Lincoln said "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."

    October 26, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  19. Leif

    Thank you, John, for giving me yet another reason to not vote for the GOP. I like clarity.

    October 26, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  20. werewolf1

    I had always wished Mr. Powell would run for President this year and who or why he Votes for someone is up to him. No one should vote for a person because of his skin color,but that is in that perfect world somewhere out there.

    October 26, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  21. Shoshana

    Colin powell is the only same person in the Republican party and his endorsement of Obama only proves he does not agree or trust Romney. He said so , susuna can't comprehend because he's really not that smart.

    October 26, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  22. ngc1300

    Damn, I wish he was the Republican candidate. Then I'd have a real dilemma.

    October 26, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  23. John G.

    Colin Powell is a patriot and knows from his experience as a general that Mitt Romney will expand the DOD and get us involved in more conflicts in the middle east. Mitt has clearly stated we need to "lead" in the world, get more involved in the Syrian civil war, etc. Mitt has not learned from our mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan but Powell knows the risks all to well. As to the race angle suggested by Sununu, I think it is probably at best a non-issue.

    October 26, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  24. thedarkelf

    Powell gave good service to the country as a soldier. But Politics is a totally different Monster,Im sure weather they admit it or not the NAACP,ACLU,Powell,etc etc all endorse Obama in part because of race. I dont think it really matters, Brown Americans of African decent do not make up enough of the population to vote in Barrack. The real question is how are we going to get enough of the majority together on Romney for the win

    October 26, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  25. metalhead65

    I have lost allot of the respect I had for powell over this. he was one guy I always pointed to when people accuse me of being racist for not voting and supporting obama. had he run for president I would have voted for him in the last election. now I am so glad he did not and he most definitely should leave the republican party if he truly feels obama's policies are what is best for America since they represent everything the republican party is against. things like big government and higher taxes.

    October 26, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
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