By Ben Cohen: Romney campaign co-chairman John Sununu told CNN's Piers Morgan on Thursday night that Colin Powell endorsed President Barack Obama not because of his policies, but because Obama was somebody of Powell's 'own race'.
Sununu served as the 75th Governor of New Hampshire and later White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush, and is now a top adviser in Romney's Presidential campaign.
Here's the exchange on CNN:
Sununu: Well, I'm not sure how important that is. I do like the fact that Colin Powell's boss, George Herbert Walker Bush, has endorsed Mitt Romney all along. And frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.
Morgan: What reason would that be?
Sununu: Well, 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.
The assertion, later retracted by Sununu, is incredibly offensive on several levels. Implying that Powell, a four star general who served under George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is incapable of making a rational decision based on policies rather than skin color is simply wrong. Regardless of what you may think about Powell's policies, he's an extraordinarily capable man who fought for and served his country at the highest level for several decades. Powell is a moderate Republican who had serious reservations about the Iraq war and spent much of the time in the Bush White House trying to stop the Neo Cons enacting their disastrous plans.
Given Obama is a centrist himself (despite the loony accusations from the Right that he is a radical socialist), it's no wonder Powell endorsed him as their outlook is decidedly similar. Here's Powell on CBS news on why he is highly skeptical of Romney's foreign policy vision:
"The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night ... was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I'm not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy."
"One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal, same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern ... is that sometimes I don't sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have."
And here's Powell on Romney's economic policies:
"As I listen to what his proposals are especially with respect to dealing with respect to our most significant issue, the economy, it's essentially let's cut taxes and compensate for that with other things but that compensation does not cover all of the cuts intended or the new expenses associated with defense."
Powell outlined his support for Obama stating his belief that the President is on the right track when it comes to the economy:
"When he took over, the country was in very very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was start[ing] to collapse and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it's starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising."
And on foreign policy, Powell said he saw the President "Get us of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars. And finally I think that the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very very solid. And so, I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on."
In short, Powell doesn't buy into the new Republican thinking that every country in the Middle East should be threatened or invaded, and doesn't believe that the country's fiscal problems can be solved by cutting taxes for rich people. Normally, this would be considered a fairly conservative and sensible stance, but in today's political climate it is judged as being a racially motivated betrayal.
What would happen if the question were reversed and every prominent white Republican was asked whether they were voting for Romney based on his skin color? Would Sununu admit that his support of Romney had nothing to do with his policies, but his racial background? Sununu would be offended on many levels, as should Colin Powell be for the exact same accusation.
Sununu should step down over these comments given their insidious and offensive implications. He won't of course, as this is standard fare for Republicans who think nothing of whipping up racial tension to drive out the vote for their candidate. Sununu believes that Colin Powell's political stance is based on race, but in reality it's Sununu's accusation that tells you who sees politics in black and white.