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. JomoDaMusicMan

    It's amazing that Sununu, had the nerve to said that Colin's Boss, GWHB, endorsed Romney. Like, he thinks Powell is a slave on the Plantation and he should have supported the same candidate as Massa. Like, Colin stated, Romney changes or shifts positions every week and basically endorsed the policies of Obama during the last debate. Since Romney has shifted his position to support Obama's policies during the last debate, maybe he should also shift his vote to Obama

    October 26, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  2. myway

    The fact that virtually all right wing GOP members and conservative Christians rather vote for the cultist but white Romney has everything to do with race, not just partially.

    October 26, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  3. Kianasmum

    That's terrible. I'm not saying all but from what I've seen, heard and read, most of Romney's supporters wouldn't vote for President period and Sununu makes it clear why. I am not an American. I'm not black. However, I and Powell have seen Romney in action and anyone with an unbiased opinion knows that he can not be trusted for the top job in your country. President Obama's goals have been hampered by a record number of filbusters but the poit is, he has great intentions. I hope Americans re-elect him so he can finish what he's started. He doesn't have failed economic policies (may not be perfect) but everything in the country has gotten better although the pace of recovery has slowed – probably due to the GOP taking control of the house. He is not a liar but Romney is. Those that says he lied (ie Guantamano) doesn't seem to realize that some things he can't do successfully alone but like I said – he has good intentions. The way I see things, Romney's supporters will point out spellling mistakes just to ignore a message.

    October 26, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  4. Mike R

    C'mon CNN-To react to the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell by featuring a clown like John Sununu claiming the endorsement is based on race is frankly pathetic, and certainly reinforces the growing perception that CNN's true colors are increasingly red.

    October 26, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  5. Concerned

    Do you honestly believe race had nothing to do with Powell's decision to endorse Obama? Really?

    October 26, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  6. rs1201

    It's very obvious that race played an important role in Powell's decision to vote for Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. It certainly cannot be Obama's failed policies. Our GDP has declined consistently since Obama took office and again this morning. It's unfortunate that an intelligent man such as Powell would put race above his country. I could understand if Romney were a racist and someone who would go about hurting blacks. Powell has demeaned his credibility and that's too bad. He's one of the country's treasures and should be above racism...but he's not.

    October 26, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  7. Purnell Meagre

    Obama, like Powelll, is intellligent, restrained and desrious of peace. How insulting to discount his suppport as a mattter of skin color.

    October 26, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. JomoDaMusicMan

    I meant he had the nerve to say not said

    October 26, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  9. KLJones

    There seems to be a pattern here– Republicans saying rather stupid things & then having to retract or clarify them. Aren't they mature enough to realize that words have consequences?

    October 26, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  10. Kelly J.

    This is incredibly insulting and racist. Basically Sununu is stating that Colin Powell, a former chairman of the JCOS, Sec. of State and UN Ambassador is so stupid, that he couldn't possibly review the two candidates and make an intelligent assessment of their qualifications. The irony is that there are millions of whites who support Romney for no reason other than that he is NOT Black.

    October 26, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |

    Sununu&other gop surigates are so desperate to win the elections thats why they're using race as an issue.

    October 26, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  12. DCPam

    Or maybe it has to do with Powell being lied to about aluminium tubes and yellow cake.

    October 26, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  13. Harleigh Kiffer

    Who really cares at this point? I think General Powell is over ratedf but then he has a right to his opinion just as I have my right.

    October 26, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  14. Anonymous

    The question is this: Is Sonunu supporting Romney because he is white? This question never get asked of a white candidate who gets support from a white person. Sonunu is a washed up ideologue and a racist.

    October 26, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  15. ForGoodOfAll

    No, Powell's endorsement of Obama is b/c Obama is experienced in foreign affairs. Romney is 'all over the map'!!!

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

    Funny, "fair and balanced" CNN isn't positing the opposite, that race is a factor in Sununu's hatred of Obama, or in the legions of slave-state whites thinking Obama is the Black Devil. This is because CNN ceased to become a journalistic enterprise over a decade ago, and has played the whiny little sycophant nephew to Fox "News" since they helped it install Bush in the White House. Disgraceful, and more harmful to our nation than Al Qaeda ever could be.

    October 26, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  17. Dave in Indy

    Stunningly cynical original statement, followed by an even more cynical clarification. Sununu may be even more disgusting than Cheney.

    October 26, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  18. john

    Sununu is fringe. I think Powell has vast experience with the mindset of these republican types and the damage they are capable of inflicting on the economy and the world. Therefore his endorsement of Obama.

    October 26, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Here is NH we see Sununu for what he is: a selfish, egotistical, bigot veiled in a lot of educations. We kicked him out of the statehouse for the same reason Bush, Sr. did – he is always right, everyone else is wrong.

    October 26, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  20. Angela

    Sununa and visa versa...eh!

    October 26, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |

    Race is the reason why this President has been disrespected since the first day. He has never been given the same respect as other Presidents. What other President has had to show his birth certificate, and been called a liar? Has race been a factor in this type of behavior?, I think everyone knows the answer to that one. I really don't want to address Sununu because HE is a racist idiot who called the POTUS lazy.

    October 26, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  22. 3rdEyeOpened

    Not even close. What a nice way of CNN to stir up even more conflict between Blacks and Whites with this article. Colin Powell is not using race as his reason for endorsing Obama. It's obvious that Mitt has policies that are unreasonable in Colin's eyes. If race was a factor, Kerry and Gore would have been backed by Colin instead of G.W. Bush, because that's where the Black American votes went during those elections. The fact that Mitt spat on Bush's policies and put his administration down in order to separate himself, may have played a role in Colin's decision as well.

    October 26, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  23. Bobber

    Shared race? One could say the same of Donald Trump endorsing Romney. I think it's a racist remark to come up with that connection in the first place.

    October 26, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  24. Neal Powers

    Sununu has stepped in it again. A mind is a terrible thing to lose.

    October 26, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  25. Jt35

    Ignorance defines Sununu. He's the type of person who likes to think of themselves as being open minded and fair but never thinks a black person/people have the ability to look at what people represent and make a decision based on facts and well thought consideration. Powell did not come out in support of Herman Cain. He's black and republican. S Powell doesn't just support someone because they are black. Sununu is an ignoramus.

    October 26, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
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