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Debate #4: Do Republicans Like Romney?

Like I’ve been saying for the longest, even the Republican Party doesn’t like Mitt Romney. They were very back-n-forth on him in the primaries, and major players like Colin Powell finally speaking out just weeks away from the election confirms what I’ve been saying. And the way he flip-flops on his so-called policy stances should be a reason of concern to all, but I’m not worried. He will not win this election.

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. When he took over, the country was in very very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was start[ing] to collapse and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising.”

Summarizing the past four years under Obama, Powell said “Generally we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude.” He acknowledged that problems remain, saying “The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing but I see that we’re starting to rise up.”

Powell expressed his concern about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s changing positions on international affairs. “The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night … was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.
One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal, same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern … is that sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have.”

Powell also criticized congressional leaders for not living up to their responsibilities, mainly around resolving the approaching fiscal cliff.

“The major problem faced either by Gov. Romney or President Obama, whoever wins the election, is going to be what to do about the fiscal cliff we’re about to fly over,” Powell said.

“This is something that was put in place by Congress and while we’re talking about the two candidates for president let’s not forget that Congress bears a lot of responsibility for many of the problems that we have now. They’re the ones that write the appropriations bills. They’re the ones that pass the legislation for more spending and for the various entitlement programs that people have trouble with.”

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 November 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.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my almost 50 years on this earth is you can’t listen to everything the media says. It’s their spin, on all topics, including the polls. Poll of whom? That’s the one thing about a poll. It doesn’t break the voters down demographically. Or does it? But when they report it, most times they don’t tell you the breakdown, white males, over 35, college graduates, women, college freshmen, whatever. So the polls being so close means nothing to me. To me, polls are for the fence-sitters, undecided, and easily swayed by the masses. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for others in the Republican Party to speak up endorsing President Obama. I can’t wait to vote. But, that’s just my thoughts. What’s yours?

excerpts on Thursday from WASHINGTON (Reuters)

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