President Barack Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting at the White House in 2010. Powell endorsed Obama for re-election on Thursday. (AFP/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election, after breaking with the Republican Party four years ago to first endorse him in 2008.
"You know I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month," Powell said on CBS' "This Morning."
Powell said that when Obama took office, the country was in "very, very difficult straits" but has since started to turn around.
"I think generally we've come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude," Powell said. "It doesn't mean we are problem solved, there are lots of problems still out there. The unemployment rate is too high. People are still hurting in housing. But I see that we are starting to rise up."
Powell praised Obama's handling of foreign policy, noting that he "saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars."
"I think that the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. And so I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on," he said.
Powell said he has "the utmost respect" for Mitt Romney but charged he has not been detailed enough in how he would manage new defense spending coupled with tax cuts. He said he also has "concerns" about Romney's use of foreign policy.
“The governor who was speaking on Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier,” Powell said. "I"m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy."
Powell also noted Romney has expressed some "very very strong neoconservative views" that he has "some trouble with."
Powell said he had a "very good conversation" with Romney a few weeks ago and speaks with Obama on a regular basis. Neither candidate asked for his endorsement, Powell said.
He said he's simply more comfortable with an Obama administration on issues including climate change, immigration, education and health care.
"I do not want to see the new Obamacare plan thrown off the table," Powell said. "It has issues, you have to fix some things in that plan but when I see when I look at that plan is 30 mllion of our fellow citizens will now be covered by insurance and I think that's good."
Powell said that despite his two endorsements of Obama, he remains a Republican.
“I think I’m a Republican of more moderate mold and that’s something of a dying breed, I’m sorry to say,” he said. “But, you know, the Republicans I worked for are President Reagan, President Bush 41, the Howard Bakers of the world, people who were conservative, people who were willing to push their conservative views, but people who recognize that at the end of the day you got to find a basis for compromise -- compromise is how this country runs.”