John Sununu, a surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said late Thursday that former Secretary of State Colin Powell likely endorsed President Obama because they share the same race.

The former New Hampshire governor said he applauded Powell for standing with the president, but wondered if Powell endorsed the president because he agrees with Obama's policies.

"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," Sununu told CNN’s Piers Morgan.

When pressed by Morgan, Sununu clarified that he was alluding to both men’s race.

"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."

After the appearance, the Romney campaign issued a statement from Sununu, who said he is a good friend of Powell's. Sununu added that he didn't doubt that Powell's endorsement was based on anything but his support of the president's policies.

The endorsement discussion was prompted by a question from Morgan, who asked Sununu if Powell should leave the Republican Party because he backed a Democrat. In the follow-up statement, Sununu said he didn't think Powell should leave the party.

Powell endorsed the president Thursday morning. He backed Obama in 2008 as well.

"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 BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE next month," Powell told CBS News. "So that's an endorsement for President Obama for reelection."

During his endorsement, the retired four-star general described himself, and the Republicans he worked for, as willing to reach across the aisle.

"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 worked 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."

Sununu has been criticized for making tough comments on the stump before. He apologized in July after saying “I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” on a Romney campaign conference call. He walked back the comments, saying he meant the president didn’t understand American business.

Following the first presidential debate in which Obama was widely panned for appearing to lack energy, Sununu called the president “lazy and detached.”

"What people saw last night, I think, was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is, how he has absolutely no idea how serious the economic problems of the country are, and how he has failed to even begin to address them," Sununu said at the time.