October 26th, 2012
11:46 AM ET
2 years ago

Booker: Sununu's comment was 'unfortunate'

(CNN) – Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a top surrogate for President Barack Obama's campaign, said Friday that a surrogate for Mitt Romney made the wrong call when he argued Colin Powell endorsed Obama because they shared the same race.

"Whatever he meant or not, it was a statement that is unfortunate and just reflects a lack of understanding and sensitivity," Booker said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

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He added: "He's gotten himself in a jam and he's going to wear that jam for a while."

Speaking on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Romney surrogate John Sununu on Thursday 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."

Booker on Friday said the "responsible thing to do" would be for the Romney campaign to issue their own statement.

"But the one thing I don't like about our political culture is we take one person's comments–stupid or not–and then we just try to spread it out and lay it over anything," Booker said. "Mitt Romney didn't say this, so it's the kind of thing for me that's just a dumb comment."

Booker was in the spotlight himself earlier this year for criticizing his own party's attacks against Romney's corporate career and saying political language used on both sides of the aisle is "nauseating." He later walked back his remarks.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, also weighed in on Sununu's comments on "Starting Point." Asked if he thought Powell voted for Obama because of race, Sessions sad, "no, I think you would have to ask Colin Powell."

"You could say that I endorse Mitt Romney, but that's not just because I'm a white man," Sessions continued. "We all have things which we're for, which we support. Colin Powell believes the president is heading down the right path. I simply disagree on this issue with Colin Powell."


Filed under: 2012 • Cory Booker • John Sununu
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Nicole Chardenet

    Gee, maybe Powell's voting for Obama because they both have a brain.

    October 26, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Da Stink

    So, Colin Powell endorsed Obama.
    So, he did so because they share the same slightly darker skin than many white Americans.

    Hypothesis: could it be that the majority of redneck teabaggers endorse mittens because of his light skin? Then, what's the point.? What's the difference?

    Hypothesis 2: Powell has had it with George W.'s GOP, the good ol' white boys and the way they treated him when he was secretary. He's had it with the hipocrytical right wingers. And he endorses the man with a much bigger vision for the USA.
    So, do I !! Obama 2012 (and I am as lilly white and middle class as it gets. Oh, been paying my taxes for over 30 years. Never a day unemployed or on public assistance.)

    October 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Patrick in Wisconsin

    P4Persepctive, that was nearly 60 years ago. I bet you weren't even around to live through that. And now all those Dixiecrats became Republicans because they thought civil rights was "not OK." Case in point: Strom Thurmond.

    October 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Not Romney in this cast

    I'll be voting for Obabma with great zeal. But I haven't seen any evidence that he is personally racist, so I encourage peope not to smear Romney because of a racist remark by one of his supporters. This doesn't mean there isn't a concern here: Romney is the head of the Republican party, and there is plenty of evidence of racial and misogynistic tendencies in that party. In the social agenda sphere, would Romney be a strong enough leader to keep the dogs on the leash? In this area, I think politics has trumped personal beliefs, and he hasn't been forceful enough, because of the threat it represents to his campaign. But this goes for all the GOP leadership, not just Romney. But I'll say it again: I've seen no evidence that Romney is racist.

    October 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You could say that I endorse Mitt Romney, but that's not just because I'm a white man," Sessions continued
    -------------------------------------------------
    Ooops! THAT didn't come out right. Surely.
    However, in spite of the f'd up way he phrased that statement us reasonable folks knew what he meant.
    Or did we?

    October 26, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. duane st.pete Florida

    calling it like he see's it....I work with a bunch of blacks and they will openly tell you that they dont know what Obama stands for....but he's black so they are voting for him. Comman knowlege.....shocking? hardly.......

    October 26, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. John

    It's true.. The only reason he is voting for him is because he is black... Just like 99% of the black population... why is this news??

    October 26, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It just shows that Sununu is acting like a whiny child. He doesn't understand that people will differ from his opinion and can be a good American.

    October 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. freedom

    There was nothing wrong with Sununu's comment. Republicans are fed up being accused of racism because we didn't buy into Obama's "hope and change" parting of the waters messiah self-image. It wouldn't have mattered if he was polk-a-dotted. And who cares who Powell votes for? He lost credibility during the last election – his basis is not genuine, or he would switched parties. Obama's policies are the farthest from any conservative principles that we've ever seen in this country. Sununu rocks!!

    October 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. duane st.pete Florida

    a liitle black kid walks up to a little white kid and says "I'm proud of being black".....the white kid says, "I'm proud to be white".....the little black kid says "racist!"

    I love it.....how true

    October 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Christine McKinney

    What "poles"? What do people from Poland have to do with this?

    October 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Bob

    As White House Chief of Staff, Sununu reportedly took personal trips, for skiing and other purposes, and classified them as official, for purposes such as conservation or promoting the Thousand Points of Light.[17] The Washington Post wrote that Sununu's jets "took him to fat-cat Republican fund-raisers, ski lodges, golf resorts and even his dentist in Boston."[17] Sununu had paid the government only $892 for his more than $615,000 worth of military jet travel.[18] Sununu said that his use of the jets was necessary because he had to be near a telephone at all times for reasons of national security.[19] Sununu became the subject of much late-night television humor over the incident.[17] Sununu worsened the situation shortly afterwards when, after leaking rumors of financial difficulties in his family, he traveled to a rare stamp auction at Christie's auction house in New York City from Washington in a government limousine, spending $5,000 on rare stamps.[20] Sununu then sent the car and driver back to Washington unoccupied while he returned on a corporate jet.[20] In the course of one week, 45 newspapers ran editorials on Sununu, nearly all of them critical of his actions.[21]

    Sununu repaid over $47,000 to the government for the flights on the orders of White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, with the help of the Republican Party.[22] However, the reimbursements were at commercial rates, which are about one-tenth the cost of the actual flights; one ski trip to Vail, Colorado alone had cost taxpayers $86,330.[23]

    October 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. Dez

    "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." Mr. Sununu

    Ummmm, no. This is the 21st century. You can't be proud of someone you claim is a bigot. Does that mean Mr. Sununu is backing Gov. Romney because he is white? Race is never a good reason to vote for anyone. If you believe that either candidate will make a better president then vote for him, don't use race as an excuse to vote for or against someone. As far as Gen. Powell, he gave reasons why he's supporting the president. I'll take his word for it. But his endorsement doesn't change my vote one way or the other. Let's not fuss over it.

    October 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. sammieb51

    Can't wait for this election to beover so I don't have to hear any more apologies from the GOP for their frequently "mis-guided" comments.

    October 26, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. John

    Give me a break.. He supported president Bush, but now thinks Obamas liberal policies are the answer.. It is obvious to anyone who isn't a complete idi ot, that powell is voting based on his race....

    October 26, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    There is NO QUESTION, Powell voted for Obama, because of skin color.

    The racists in the Democratic Party will try to make something out of that, and will say to ANYONE who comments on it, that they must be racist, but the true racists, are not those who recognize the truth, about Powell's support for Obama, but rather those who make an issue of the reaction, to that choice.........the Democrats!

    October 26, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. reasonablebe

    sununu has a history of being a bit on the mean and nasty side, and onlly truly interested in power. he probably does 'assume' ulterior motives behind lots of things, because he has them on a regular basis. he nay even believe conspiracy theories– who knows? who cared.

    point is if this is your point man, just like support of mourdok, you have to question a person's judgment in general.... that romney hasn't stepped away from either man makes it pretty clear that his judgment is a problem, that his own motives indicate a problem– he would rather keep the power/political connection that do the right thing.

    October 26, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. Richard

    The good thing about this blowhard is after this election we will not see or hear him ever again. The rethugs are going to be a footnote on the history of the United States and these small bigots will not even be cited! Obama/Biden 2012'

    October 26, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Da Stink

    @ AnnSalter:
    " 90% of the black vote [Obama] and then be outraged when the suggestion is made that someone of color would be voting for the President because of his race ".
    I am not outraged by that. But , honey, the logic goes both ways and only supports what many Dems think:
    the racist rednecks of the Teaparty vote along race lines too because they hate the idea of a half white man in the White House. They think the "White" House is called that for a reason, because they think only a lily white person should be the occupant....

    See, the reasoning goes both ways. Considering the efforts made by the Tea-rednecks, I have a pretty good idea who is more racially hateful... I haven't seen any mittens posters with him in a monkey suit or with a Hitler mustache..

    October 26, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. Jolene T

    Typical Tea/Repub endemic racism on display once again. Dinosaurs one and all!

    October 26, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Drew

    I am so tired of this crap. Can we please just elect someone so we can move along and keep everything about the same as it was going to be if the other guy was elected, please?

    October 26, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. dsangiovanni

    So, this Sununu guy is OK if someone endonse someone base only by RACE . Hum, know we know who he believes . That comment coming from a GOP member is quite a surprise is it not ?

    October 26, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Nadia

    John Sununu knew what he was saying. He's been making radical and racists statements throughout the campaign. This is a bitter immigrant who is mean, hateful, and angry fool who wants to control folks lives. He's the problem in New Hampshire.

    October 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. JeanneLH

    The GOP big mouths aren't even trying to hide their racism. It's no wonder the GOP is sinking when you have to keep apologizing for their comments. The only ones who want to be GOP anymore are Teapartiers and White Supremicts

    October 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Luke Brown

    And is race the reason Sununu supporting Romney?

    October 26, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
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