October 25th, 2012
10:34 PM ET
8 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. Name Ni

    He actually said that on cnn?
    He should be ashamed of himself.

    October 26, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  2. Byron Postle

    How many times can Republicans say something stupid that reveals their true thinking, only too say shortly afterwards (when they realize it might not poll well) it wasn't what they meant...or is wasn't 'elegantly' stated. As a Canadian who loves the United States I sincerely hope the majority of Americans see it Colin Powell's way.

    October 26, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  3. Gail Neira

    Although a known active lifelong conservative Republican, I find John Sununu absolutely repulsive, arrogant, political thug, irrelevant now and years back when he was just as unpopular which is why he was not encouraged to seek re-election to anything. Even in years past, he was not trusted, not appealing. He epitomizes everything that cronyism continues to be disgusting. The Republican Party's so-called claims of Christian values is just rhetoric and rest has sunk into the toilet. Sununu and most of Romney's top donors and advisors reflect deception, lies and corruption. With all that being factual, we Republicans are still stuck voting Republican if the choices are no better than what the Democrats have. We middle class will continue to be their political and economic policy victims.

    October 26, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  4. JC22222

    Regarding Romney Campaign Chairman John Sununu:

    A top Romney supporter making racist comments? That's weird. Most Romney supporters are too busy demeaning women.

    October 26, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. Craig RB

    Gen. Powell is a very wise man, pragmatic & thoughtful as are the other Republicans who'll vote for President Obama.

    October 26, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  6. V

    So when white people endorse other whites, I will assume it is soley for race as well. And that everyone who is white who DOES NOT endorse Obama it is because he is black. And every white person who supports Romney it is solely because of his race. CNN should be embarassed to even allow such people to comment on air. But I guess anything for ratings and anything to be salacious.

    October 26, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  7. Sam

    Does this mean that a white man endorsing Gov. Romney is racially motivated?

    October 26, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  8. anonoymous

    Mr Powell told the reporters why he was supporting the president but I guess that explains why Romney with lyin self is still in the race. He's white. Grow up the only color this race is about is green and I for one dont believe R/R is the right choice.

    October 26, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  9. Romney lies

    Sununu is a small minded angry old man.

    October 26, 2012 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  10. bud88

    what joke

    October 26, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  11. art boyle

    This man sununu is unbelievable. i dont want him or his kind anywhere near my government.

    October 26, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  12. Samson

    Sununu has seen very clear signs of defeat for Romney and wants to heat up race issues. Truth is Powell based his endorsement of Obama on the Economy, Auto-Industry resuscitation, et al. Americans think

    October 26, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  13. Conrad Baylor

    "Sununu cites race as factor for Powell’s Obama endorsement"

    It isn't just a factor. Race is obviously the most fundamental factor.

    What a a sad irony that so many blacks didn't learn a thing from Martin Luther King Jr. They support Obama not because of the content of his character but because of the color of his skin. And yet whites who have the good judgment to vote against this horribly failed president are the ones being labeled "racists" by idiots like Chris Matthews.

    October 26, 2012 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  14. Name Pamma

    He never was a republican

    October 26, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  15. WHY NOT?

    OK Then........... Does Any One take this guy (Sununu) Serious?

    October 26, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  16. Hammilton

    First it's because they're both black. Then he leaves the interview and realizes he made a huge mistake and releases a new statement saying it's not for anything but the policies. I tend to believe that when people say something clearly and then later say no that's not what I meant, they're lying to cover up the truth. People say things all the time that they don't mean or phrase it inelegantly. Obama's "You didn't build that" line, for example. Terrible line, but the rest of his speech said exactly what he meant, how none of us got to where we are without standing on the backs of those who came before us, who taught us, who paved the roads we're travelling- metaphorically and literally. Romney on the 47%- he made a whole speech on why almost half of the country doesn't concern him.

    October 26, 2012 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  17. ghostdansing

    I think Colin Powell sees the Neo-Conservative foreign policy theorists waiting in the wings for a Romney administration. They're the ones who set him up on Iraq during the Bush years.

    October 26, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  18. Sam

    Who is Sununu?
    If race was a factor Powell would have endorsed Obama a long time ago.
    Powell endorsed Obama at the same time when announcement came out about another Bush/Cheney fundraising for Romney. Powell knows these neocons too well.
    The reason Powell endorsed Obma is that "he did not start another war". Clear and simple.
    Respect to Powell.
    Disrespect to Sununu, whoever he might be.

    October 26, 2012 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  19. tsb610

    And Sununu and the vast majority of Tea Party members endorse Romney because they share the same race.

    October 26, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  20. Margaret Dolan

    Oh, Sununu. I thought you had gone as low as you could but I was wrong evidently. This is offensive! Colin Powell is a highly respected, highly intelligent statesman and you are a racist proxy for Mr. Romney.

    October 26, 2012 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  21. Bob Sherwood

    That's right Mr. Sununu. Spread your poison, and then issue a half-hearted withdrawal.

    October 26, 2012 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  22. charles

    Why is Sununu that stupid?So he is voting for Romney because he is white?

    October 26, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  23. Chedar

    Hey Nunu you are such a racist. White with an idiotic face. I endorse Obama and I am Asian. I can endorse both way and no one will blame me as racist. Obama is doing an honest job and Powell and I know it.You are the racist Nunu!!! You are and it shows in your face.

    October 26, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  24. Eric

    It's simple...Powell is a Democrat wearing a very thin Republican cloak,very very thin!

    October 26, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  25. Paul

    The boar's on the rampage again!

    October 26, 2012 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
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