Wednesday 20 September 2017

Romney campaign boss has to backtrack on race remark

Alex Spillius London and Raf Sanchez Washington

ONE of Mitt Romney's campaign chairmen has hastily withdrawn his suggestion that former Secretary of State Colin Powell only endorsed Barack Obama for re-election because they are both black.

Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu said the endorsement by Mr Powell, a Republican who served in both Bush presidencies but backed Mr Obama in 2008, could be explained by the fact that the men were of the same race.

"When you 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," Mr Sununu told CNN.

Distraction

"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 remark prompted swift criticism, and Mr Sununu quickly backtracked.

"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," he said.

Mr Sununu's remarks proved an unwelcome distraction as Mr Romney prepared to give a major speech on the economy.

It is not the first time Mr Sununu has been accused of injecting the issue of race into the presidential election.

In July, he told reporters he wished Mr Obama "would learn how to be an American" and was forced to apologise.

Mr Powell, whose parents were immigrants from Jamaica, served as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President George Bush Snr and as secretary of state under President George W Bush.

Meanwhile new opinion polls show voters in three competitive states find President Obama leading in Nevada and Ohio and tied with Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Colorado. The CNN/ORC International poll found Mr Obama ahead of Romney, 50pc to 46pc among voters in Ohio. No Republican presidential nominee has ever been elected without carrying the state.

Mr Powell has credited the president with recent improvements in the economy and praised him as a steely commander-in-chief who had wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Obama for his part condemned remarks by an Indiana Republican US Senate candidate who described pregnancy caused by rape as something "God intended". "I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas," Mr Obama said reacting to remark by candidate Richard Mourdock. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

JAMES DOWNEY: ANALYSIS, PAGES 36 & 37

Irish Independent

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