Washington - Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday endorsed Barack Obama's bid for re-election, citing the Democratic president's efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan and tackle terrorism.
“I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on,” the Republican, who also backed Obama in 2008, told “CBS This Morning,” adding, “I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012.”
The move comes just days after Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney clashed over foreign policy in the third and last presidential debate ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
Polls show Obama and Romney neck and neck. A Reuters/Ipsos online tracking poll gave Romney a 1-point edge on Wednesday, 47 percent to Obama's 46 percent.
Obama's campaign was quick to promote the endorsement in a video statement released about 30 minutes after Powell's appearance.
Powell criticized Romney's foreign policy as inconsistent and questioned the former Massachusetts governor's ability to tackle the deficit and looming defense cuts.
“I'm not quite sure which Governor Romney we'd be getting with respect to foreign policy,” Powell said, calling Romney's foreign policy “a moving target.”
As for the U.S. budget, he added: “It's essentially, let's cut taxes and compensate for that with other things, but that compensation does not cover all the cuts intended or the expenses associated with defense.”
Powell has been critical of Romney's foreign policy advisers and has taken issue with the former business executive's stance on countries such as Russia.
A moderate Republican, Powell served under President George W. Bush. Some of Romney's advisers are more conservative veterans of the Bush administration.
“There's some very, very strong neo-conservative views that are presented by the governor that I have some trouble with,” Powell said on CBS.
He added that other issues such as the economy and education also loomed large in his continued support for a second term for Obama. - Reuters