October 25th, 2012
10:34 PM ET
10 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. Kenneth

    What a moron. maybe its because the republican party tried to throw him under the bus during the Bush admin? Maybe he simply agrees with the direction the current administration is going? Maybe he simply likes President Obama's agenda over Mitt Romney's? Maybe Sununu won't vote for Obama because of his race? Whatever motivates ANYONE to vote is their choice and should not be up for debate. Get over yourselves and vote who you believe has your best interest in mind regardless of what some biased and unrelenting pundit may "think".

    October 26, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  2. T J

    I believe there is a hint of race but it goes both ways. There are folks out there who would not vote for Obama because he is biracial/black. There are folks who will support and vote for Obama but who will then turn around and vote for a Repub candidate for the house and senate, and vice versa. No big deal.

    October 26, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  3. DPV300

    Hello John Sununu,

    Obama and Colin Powell are not of the same race! They have different ancestry background.

    Your comment is a fine example of " GOP intelligence".

    October 26, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  4. TommyTT

    Sununu's remarks are backhanded nonsense. Powell has always, always operated according to principle rather than party allegiance and Sununu knows it. But he wants to claw back the effect of Powell's Obama endorsement. The GOP just won't admit how dirty they play the game or how far right they have slid. It's always somebody else's fault.

    October 26, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  5. Lss

    I think he made the comments intentionally and were planned. The intent was to let white voters know that they should vote for Romney based on the race. A well planned strategy to play the race card....

    October 26, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  6. Goober

    Of course race has something to do with it. This black man has supported Republican ideals and was part of an administration. An administration blamed for everything by Obama. But this black man supports Obama. I think there is an unwritten rule that all blacks have to vote for Obama. Otherwise, some of the 50 percent unemployed black youth would definitely want someone else. But no, Obama gets 100 percent of their vote. Whose racist?

    October 26, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  7. EJ

    John Sununu is a racist fool. He should ask himself is race a factor in this country having only one Afro-American president in the countrys history....Every president in this countrys history has been white and Sununu has had no problem with that even when they ruined this countrys and the world economy.....this is a stupid man but then racism breeds stupidty......

    October 26, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  8. stickyhumid

    Well, let's just accept the kind of racism (or "race based") decisions that seems to be almost 100% within the black community.
    I mean, there is truly nothing that can be done about individual, personal acts of racism. You can't legislate a person's personal (racist, ridiculous) opinions about other people.
    Incidentally, I can hardly tell that Colin Powell is black anyway.... so not so sure he is supporting Obama for race reasons.

    October 26, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  9. kmac499

    I would think it was being hung out to day by the Rep Party when he was Sec of State ahd had to go lie in front of the UN.

    October 26, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  10. frostback

    That could be true, if the race Sununu is referring to is the human one.

    October 26, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  11. Craig in Pa.

    No John, Powell just has common sense and is far more credible than you are....I think you have lost it in recent years and have lost a lot of respect as a result of that

    October 26, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  12. bibleverse1

    Colin Powell is an American who is motivated by American values he is not given in to voting for the black dude because he is black. Colin Powell is well versed in war he knows what it means to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 26, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  13. Adventure49

    Mr. Sununu's remark is disgusting. I have great respect for Gen. Colin Powell, and now I have no respect for John Sununu.

    October 26, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  14. paul parrott

    No one wants to say it but the only reason Colin is voting for Obama is race. He is not a Republican. Powell needs to leave the party.

    October 26, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  15. Tim

    I was very much a Powell fan and had hoped he would run for the presidency but he did not. Since that time, however, I cannot ignore he sold us Weapons of Mass Destruction while under Bush, he backed Obama in 2008 and now after the last four years of mis-steps, poor performance in executing his pledges/promises, passing a massive health care bill that we were told we 'must pass in order to see what is in it', the handling and dancing over the Libya consulate incident by this administration Mr. Powell does again place his support to this administration. I have to say, I'm tending to think Mr. Powell seems to be on the wrong side of things with consistency.

    October 26, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Does he say how many whites are voting for Romney because they are of the same race?

    October 26, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
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