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Romney surrogate suggests racial component to Powell endorsement of Obama

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a frequent spokesman for the Romney campaign, was asked during an appearance on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" whether it was time for Powell to leave the Republican Party after siding with the president in the past two elections.

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"I'm not sure how important that is," replied Sununu. "Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder if that's an endorsement based on issues, or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama?"

Morgan asked what reason Powell would have otherwise.

"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," Sununu said.

Powell made his endorsement earlier Thursday during an an interview with CBS News.

"You know, I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and will vote for him and Vice President Joe Biden next month," Powell told CBS News. "So that's an endorsement for President Obama for reelection.

Powell went on to praise Obama for his handling of the economy and foreign policy. Powell said Obama had inherited "one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression" after taking office in 2009, following the presidency of his former boss — President George W. Bush.

"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," Powell said. "Consumer confidence is rising. So I think generally we've come out of the dive and start[ed] to gain altitude."

Powell also said he continued to consider himself a Republican, despite having now backed the Democratic presidential nominee for a second straight election.

"I think I'm a Republican of a more moderate mold and that's something of a dying breed, I'm sorry to say," Powell said. "But, you know, the Republicans I work for are President Reagan, President Bush 41, [the] Howard Bakers of the world, people who were conservative, people who were willing to push their conservative views but people who recognized at the end of the day you [had] to find a basis for compromise."