(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke with the Republican party during the 2008 election, to endorse then-candidate Barack Obama for president, calling Obama a "transformational figure."
Powell joined "CBS This Morning" on Thursday and with 12 days to go before the presidential election publicly endorsed President Obama for reelection for the first time.
"I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I'll be voting for he and Vice President Joe Biden next month."
Powell explained his choice to Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell: "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 at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was started 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 come back 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 added, "The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing but I see that we're starting to raise up."
Turning to foreign policy, Powell said he saw "the president got us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars. And finally 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."
Speaking to Mitt Romney's foreign policy views, Powell expressed his concern about 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," referring to Romney's performance at the foreign policy debate earlier in the week. "I'm not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy," he added. "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, Gov. 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 said that he did not give either candidate early notice of his endorsement, but that he has spoken to Gov. Romney throughout the campaign and speaks to President Obama regularly He added that he has given close consideration to Romney's domestic policies.
"As I listen to what his proposals are especially with respect to dealing with respect to our most significant issue, the economy, 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 new expenses associated with defense."
Gen. Powell last joined "CBS This Morning" in June, and at the time remained noncommittal about his support for either candidate in the race for the White House.
"Whatever judgement I have right now would be incomplete. I haven't seen everything that Mitt Romney is going to do. I haven't seen how our economy is going to play out," he said at the time. And, despite his endorsement of a Democratic candidate in two presidential elections, Powell says he remains a Republican. "I think I'm a Republican of a more moderate mold," he said before adding, "That's something of a dying breed I'm sorry to say."