Colin Powell endorses President Obama

In an interview with CBS Thursday morning, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Obama for a second term. 

"When he took over, the country was in very, very difficult straits," Powell said. "Generally, we've come out of the dive and we're starting to gain altitude."

On foreign policy, Powell added, "the president got us out of one war, started to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars." He added that he thought "the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very very solid."

As for Romney, Powell said, "Not only am I not comfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for his economic plan, I have concerns about his views on foreign policy." He said that while Romney largely agreed with Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan in Monday's debate, at other points the Republican candidate has expressed "some very, very strong neo-conservative views." 

Obama's campaign told reporters that the president had no advance warning of Colin Powell endorsement. Before taking the stage at an event in Tampa, Obama called Powell to thank him, though there was no discussion of any joint appearances. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the campaign is “very excited” about the endorsement: “We think it sends a strong signal about why he should be sent back for another four years to be commander in chief.”

Powell endorsed Obama in 2008 as well, calling him a "transformational figure." In the CBS interview Powell says he is still a Republican, but "of a more moderate mold ... That's something of a dying breed, I'm sorry to say."

Former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took a shot at Powell on Fox News Radio after the endorsement, saying, “General Powell, you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime."

Earlier this year Powell criticized Romney on foreign policy, saying some of the Republican's advisers are "quite far to the right." At the time, however, he said he was not ready to endorse, saying he was still listening to Romney's proposals. 

Condoleezza Rice, who replaced Powell as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, has endorsed Romney and campaigned for him, saying that the former Massachusetts governor will "put this country back to work." 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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