Saturday, October 27, 2012


Mitt Romney adviser says race is the reason Colin Powell is endorsing President Obama  

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu says general backing Obama because both men are African-American

























Steve Helber/AP

President Obama waves to supporters at campaign rally in Richmond, Va. on Thursday.

The issue of race moved to the forefront of the presidential campaign Friday after a top Mitt Romney adviser suggested that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama because both men are African-American.
The controversy threw a spotlight on a stark racial divide that has opened up in the election — new poll numbers show that Obama has fewer white supporters than any presidential candidate in 24 years.
The dispute erupted as Romney attempted to refocus the election on the economy, declaring in a speech in Iowa that Obama inherited a bad situation when he took office and then “made the problem worse.”
And the President faced new fallout from the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. The father of one of the American victims lashed out at the White House, saying he considers government officials the “murderers of my son.”
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LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

Colin Powell is accused of endorsing President Obama only because both men are African-American.

The racial controversy erupted when former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a co-chairman of Romney’s campaign, downplayed Powell’s recent endorsement of Obama by suggesting that race was a factor.
“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 said on CNN.
When asked what he meant, Sununu added, “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.”
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STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Former Gov. John Sununu's comments underscored the role that race could play in the campaign’s final days. Obama has experienced a sharp erosion of support among whites, creating a highly polarized electorate as America prepares to vote.

Questioned about the comment, Obama told a Philadelphia radio station Friday that not many people in America “would question Gen. Powell’s . . . willingness to tell it straight.”
“So any suggestion that General Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important election based on anything but what he thought was what’s going to be best for America doesn’t make much sense,” Obama said.
Sununu backtracked, saying he has no doubt the endorsement by Powell — chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former President George W. Bush — “was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies.”
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Randy Holmes/ABC

Michelle Obama delivers wakeup call to Jimmy Kimmel for late-night skit.

Sununu’s remark underscored the role that race could play in the campaign’s final days. Obama has experienced a sharp erosion of support among whites, creating a highly polarized electorate as America prepares to vote.
Obama now trails Romney 60%-37% among white voters, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.
The 23-point gap is the largest racial divide since the 1988 election — and almost double Obama’s 12-point deficit to John McCain among whites in 2008.
Adding to the polarization: Obama won election in 2008 by receiving 95% of the black vote — and polls show he will do at least as well among nonwhites this year.
It is difficult to determine what role, if any, prejudice might be playing in the racial divide. But other factors might be at work as well.
White, working-class voters have traditionally voted Republican since the 1960s — and they have really struggled these last four years, argued Prof. Doug Muzzio of Baruch College.
“The impact of the economic slump was really felt by these [white voters],” said Muzzio. “They are unhappy.”
As a series of new polls showed Obama and Romney locked in a dead heat, Romney marched into the swing state of Iowa Friday to stake a claim that he would be better able than Obama to power up the economy.
Romney downplayed new numbers Friday that showed the economy grew at a better-than-expected — but still tepid — annual rate of 2% between July and September. Romney said the economy should be doing much better.
“The presidency of the last four years has fallen far short of the promises of the last campaign,” Romney told a chilly crowd in Ames.
Obama remained in Washington, taping a series of interviews with television stations in the battleground states.
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EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards campaign plane in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday after stumping for votes in Midwest.

But he came under fire from Charlie Woods, whose son Tyler, a former Navy SEAL, died defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month from an attack by Islamic militants. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans also were killed.
“I wish that leadership in the White House had that same level of moral courage and heroism that my son displayed,” Woods told Fox News.
He claimed the government should have done more to safeguard the embassy and respond to the attack — and said those who did not help were the “murderers of my son.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said there was not enough clear information coming from Benghazi the night of the attack to justify dispatching U.S. forces there.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy threatened to disrupt the campaign in its final days. The so-called “Frankenstorm” is expected to pound the East Coast early next week, forcing the cancellation of two Virginia Beach rallies — one by Romney, the other by Vice President Biden — scheduled for the weekend.
jlemire@nydailynews.com
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