October 26th, 2012
09:18 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama rejects role of race in endorsement

(CNN) - President Barack Obama on Friday rejected the suggestion of a top surrogate for Mitt Romney that race may have been behind former Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, saying that scenario "doesn't make much sense."

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a top surrogate for the GOP presidential nominee, made the suggestion during a Thursday appearance on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

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"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.

When pressed to explain further, Sununu added: "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."

In his Friday interview on the syndicated radio program "The Michael Smerconish Show," Obama said that he would let Powell's endorsement and positive assessment of Obama's economic policies "stand for themselves."

"I don't think that there are many people in America who would question General Powell's credibility, his patriotism, his willingness to tell it straight," Obama said. "So any suggestion that General Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important election based on anything [other] than what he thought was what's going to be best for America, I think, doesn't make much sense."

In his Thursday endorsement, Powell specifically cited Obama's economic policies and questioned how Romney would handle taxes and foreign policy.

Under Obama's economic leadership, he said, "Generally, we've come out of the dive and we're starting to gain altitude."

Sununu later issued a statement calling Powell "a friend."

"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," the statement said.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Colin Powell • President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. carol sherman

    The thought that Colin Powell would endorse POTUS for the reason of ethnic background is not only an insult to the POTUS, but it is an insult to the American people and Sununu owes America a public apology.

    October 26, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  2. BinaryTooth

    You gota be kidding me after the way Obama sent Biden out to scare the black voters by threatening them to be put back in chains. Obama is the biggest race baiter and great divider.

    October 26, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. steve

    Obama will reject anything...including common sense, integrity, honesty, morality, leadership, and above all, competence.

    October 26, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. kerbean

    John Sununu is a racist blowhard! This is not the first time he has used this kind of rhetoric and then later walked it back.

    October 26, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Merle McClung

    Quit making excuses for the old fart. He's a bigot! And this whole country will never be free of this racism until the whole of his generation dies out.

    October 26, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. honest mari

    Only a bigot like Sununu will refuse to acknowledge how hard President Obama and this government has worked to dig us out of the ditch his party the Republican party had thrown us into economically. It is had for him see how foggy their representative and his plans are. He will support him anyhow as long as he is of the race he wants. Shame on you Sununu for daring to mortgage the future of millions of Americans for race. There goes the depth of your love for this Great Nation and civil leadership and commitment

    October 26, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  7. Sara

    So "when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States," that goes for all the white people endorsing Mittens too, right?

    October 26, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  8. Yonni

    If Romney is elected this guy is a package deal with him one other reason to reject Romney

    October 26, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. Elva Makenson

    The question of race is off topic and out of date.America needs to make the choice that is most likely able to address the current issues and create a more solid foundation.

    October 26, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. CNN Fan

    Republican leader never accepted the truth even most of Americans think it is truth...They are just liars and coward to accept the truth....shame on those leaders...

    October 26, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  11. Bart Cubbins

    " ... I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the president's policies," the statement said.

    A triple negative! Read literally, Sununu's statement says that he does think Powell's endorsement was based on things other than support of the president's policies. Of course, that's not what he meant to say in his statement.

    October 26, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. Tim131

    Wow, and this guy is close to Romney? That is racist. Wonder why Sununu wants to vote for Romney then? It CAN'T be because of his economic policies, can it...?

    October 26, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  13. enuff

    It is not about race. I want to apologize to our President for the hateful comments people say about him in racial, hateful ways. I am caucasian and I am embarrassed that poeple think that way. We are all PEOPLE for crying out loud. Some rich, some poor... but all have hearts

    October 26, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. OCCaVoter

    Sununu is coco for Rambling Romney and Lyin' Ryan. The real culprits are showing the their spots America. These people like Sununu are the ones that dislike America's poor, poor working class, middle class, and all ethnic group whom are not like them, the 1%

    October 26, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  15. SMS

    The most racist bumper sticker I have ever seen says, African Americans for Obama. Can you even imagine the riots that would take place if there was a similar bumper sticker about supporting a white politician?

    October 26, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Obama should reject it. Sununu and McCain who also entered this conversation are both Cheny, Rove, GWBush men along with Portman. I reject anything or anyone who is tied to GWBush,

    October 26, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. AZ girl

    OMG! Will NO ONE give Mr. Powell his propers?! Security Council, Military Intelligence, AND Secretary of State & it is ALL reduced to "He endorsed him because he is black." SHAME on you Sununu, shame! AND you WORKED with him. As a die hard Moderate, Mr. Powell has ALL the respect I can give him, he is AWESOME!

    October 26, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Stephen

    Sununu should NOT have backed off his comment. The truth is the truth. Obama is desperate and anything he thinks can help him including recycling a 2008 endorsement from a former Secretary of State from the Bush White House. Funny how Bush is alright when it helps Obama. Huh?
    And it most definitely helps that Colin Powell is a Black American, does it not? Obama most certainly does HOPE so.

    October 26, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    there is a issue with colin powell endorsing obama always the race card...but what about all the white people voting for romney...

    October 26, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. Dee

    This man is repulsive and Colonel Wilkerson said it best his Republican party is not about the policies of the President but about getting this black man out of the White House he said it plain and clear on the Ed Show tonight and he says he is ashamed of him.

    Sununu is a jerk and racist and would never be the man than General Powell is he stepped on the wrong issue this time.

    October 26, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  21. mikewj

    Sununu is attempting to walk back his initial statement. There's been so much walking back by repubs of late, they have out-mastered Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk.

    October 27, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  22. Poje

    Gov Sununu has forgotten that half of the country, should I say, more than half of the country is voting for President Obama.And those are men and women of all colors. What a shame!!!

    October 27, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  23. Harry

    Powell is one of the very few men i wish wanted to be pres n one of the few blacks that i trust is not just deciding on color alone as much as i disagree with him

    October 27, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  24. Stephen o

    The truth is the former secretary of state endorsement is based on facts and achievements of Obama administration and not because of race. obama has done a good job lets give him a chance to finish what he started. We are proud of him and we wish him well

    October 27, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  25. steve

    yeah right!
    and the lies just keep on comin!

    October 27, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
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