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by Kevin Liptak
(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.
|KEY OBAMA ENDORSER—Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.), former Secretary of State, talks with CNN's Piers Morgan.
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."
|TOP ROMNEY SURROGATE—Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu on State of the Union with Candy Crowley. (CNN Photo/File)
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 policies, 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.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a top surrogate for President Barack Obama's campaign, said Friday that a Sunnunu made the wrong call when he argued Colin Powell endorsed Obama because they shared the same race.
"Whatever he meant or not, it was a statement that is unfortunate and just reflects a lack of understanding and sensitivity," Booker said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
He added: "He's gotten himself in a jam and he's going to wear that jam for a while."
Booker on Friday said the "responsible thing to do" would be for the Romney campaign to issue their own statement.
But the one thing I don't like about our political culture is we take one person's comments--stupid or not--and then we just try to spread it out and lay it over anything," Booker said. "Mitt Romney didn't say this, so it's the kind of thing for me that's just a dumb comment."
Booker was in the spotlight himself earlier this year for criticizing his own party's attacks against Romney's corporate career and saying political language used on both sides of the aisle is "nauseating." He later walked back his remarks.
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, also weighed in on Sununu's comments on "Starting Point." Asked if he thought Powell voted for Obama because of race, Sessions sad, "no, I think you would have to ask Colin Powell."
"You could say that I endorse Mitt Romney, but that's not just because I'm a white man," Sessions continued. "We all have things which we're for, which we support. Colin Powell believes the president is heading down the right path. I simply disagree on this issue with Colin Powell."
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