Campaign 2012: Sununu plays the race card

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (L) stands at the podium on the abbreviated first day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. The RNC is scheduled to convene today, but will hold its first full session tomorrow after being delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac.
Win McNamee

Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Barack Obama keeps spinning out bad news for the campaign of his challenger, Mitt Romney — this time in the form of injudicious comments by an adviser who just can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.

Appearing on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu suggested that the widely publicized endorsement that former Secretary of State Powell gave the president on Thursday was based on race.

"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.

"What reason would that be?" a somewhat perplexed sounding Morgan replied.

"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.

A few hours after the CNN interview, Sununu issued a statement appearing to back away from the comment.

"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,” read the statement.

This is not the first time that Sununu has landed himself, and the Romney campaign, in hot water.

In July, appearing on Fox News, Sununu suggested that the president was not quite American, echoing those who have long claimed that Obama’s Kenyan roots disqualify him from holding the US’ top office.

Obama, said Sununu, “has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia.”

In a separate interview, he said, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

He was later shamed, or bullied, into apologizing, much as he did this time.

Few doubt that race has played a role in some of the attacks against the president, but the issue has been kept on the back burner. It is in neither party’s interests to bring it out at this late date.

With just a little over a week to go before Election Day, it might be time to keep the burly, bombastic Sununu under wraps.