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. ari

    What a ludicrous statement....Powell's decision wouldn't stem from the fact that Romney is clueless on foreign affairs, including that Russia is #1 geopolitical foe, or that he picked a VP who is equally clueless on foreign affairs, as well as Romney's incessant flip fllopping, and his delusional, mathematically challenged tax plan...There's a cornucopia of reasons not to pick Romney and to pick Obama.

    October 26, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  2. asc183

    John Sununu should be ashamed of himself

    October 26, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  3. Slim

    I think George H.W. Bush only supports Romney because they're both white.

    October 26, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  4. Rob

    Perhaps he's endorsing him because of a different shared attribute – intelligence.

    October 26, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  5. Syd

    Oh for crying out loud why us it so hard to believe that people actually think the president is doing a fine job?? The economy is improving, we're getting government out of the dictating creepy religious dogma business, and the free nations around the world are actually starting to listen to us again. We elect Romney we can kiss all that goodbye.

    October 26, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  6. Jerry

    Is this traitor/opportunist really relevant?! Obamalooney is definitely getting desperate.

    Just asking!

    October 26, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  7. Paul

    John Sununu, is your endorsement of Romney explained by YOUR shared race?

    October 26, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  8. Diojisdad

    Wow Sununu sounds mildly racist in his statement.

    October 26, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  9. Thomas

    When you think of the worst America has to show, as far a greed , contempt , arrogance and spiteful ignorance ,

    John Sununu

    Romney = GW Bush

    October 26, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  10. Jo

    I am sure its race and not the fact Mitt changes his mind faster than Stewart at Daytona. Fat ignorant people like Sununu who play arm chair quaterback on policies that he knows nothing about while criticizing people who actually have done things in his life is what the GOP is all about. I am white, doesn't mean I am voting Mittens. The question should be is the GOP good enough for Powell.

    October 26, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  11. Concerned Citizen

    Could it be that race is the factor that you all want him out. Gimme a break!

    October 26, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  12. It all adds up!

    John Sununu and Mit Romeny not only share the same race they share the same love for other people's money.

    October 26, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  13. joseph

    So what else is new people vote for the president for a variety of reasons.

    October 26, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  14. crazeelegs

    Well, John, does that mean that white voters vote for a white candidate as well? Why didn't you say that as well? The same applies, but it's the shoe on the other foot, huh?

    October 26, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  15. d. hamilton

    Fmr Secretary of State Powell gave too many specifics for the main reason for his endorsemenr to be race. If you formerly had Powell's position, you should have cringed after listening to the foreign policy debate (to include Ryan's' performance in hid separate debate). People are confusing Romney's subdued, calculated performance with just not being strong on foreign policy. Let's not forget all the gaffes he made on foreign policy before the debates whenever he opened his mouth. But seriously, how does as would be president Not know that Iraq separates Syria and Iran. Syria is Iraq's path to the sea? I'm embarrassed that this race is so close. Nice try Romney spinmeisters. People who know better are not buying what you are selling!

    October 26, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  16. Jim

    Stop it right there CNN and the Republic Party. Any time two black persons (or two non-white) agree, it's because of race. Don't give this storyline anymore front page press.

    October 26, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  17. TJ

    Race is only a factor if you are a racist. I don't hear anyone saying the same thing about all the white people supporting Romney. Powell originally supported Obama because he was disgusted with what Bush had done - he doesn't see any change with Romney leading the Republican party. That's the reason.

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

    How quickly the Repubs flip-flop...smh...say one thing one day, get blacklash and immediately go into damage control mode. You can't trust any of them.

    October 26, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  19. Jarrod

    Thats ridiculous and he knows it. Colin Powell is an extremely intelligent person and knows exactly what we will get if Mitt Romney is elected. The Same tired policies that all GOP candidates use. Tax cuts, defense buildup (for the conflict Mitt already has in mind), deregulation of wall street and business in general. And anyone who has studied history knows that GOP presidents always ignore the deficit. The bad part about this time would be that there is no surplus to start with. That is because of the nasty and country destroying partisan politics we are stuck in. I am not fooled, nor blind. I know history and I know that Mitt Romney will wreak havoc on the middle class if elected. I am not swayed by what I know are lies.

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  20. Eric S

    And of coufse, Sununu's approval of Romney (not to say the Tea Party folks) has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he;s white, as opposed to the other guy Of course, nothing whatsoever.

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  21. Vince

    It's more about extremism and moderate Republicanism... I'm a moderate Republican voting for Obama.

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  22. Leif

    Perhaps Sununu can explain why I despise him...I am white.

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  23. josh rogen

    I think the president's problem is that he hasn't been on enough talk shows and news specials, also not enough pro Obama sitcoms and sporting event interviews. and only the one pro Obama propaganda er i mean historical film and not enough celebrity events and endorsements. also i don't think he's promised enough things to enough people. oh yeah he's only playing the race card now should have been pointing out his blackness more, people seem to have forgotten. and only have been seeing the job he's been doing. equality's a B. but he can overcome.

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  24. Concerned Citizen

    Race...the same reason he trying to be put out of office .

    October 26, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  25. Smith

    "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."

    This seems somewhat racist to me. Wouldn't it be racist to argue that a white man supporting Mitt Romney did so because of Mitt's common white race?

    October 26, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
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