Powell Obama
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and President Barack Obama.  Reuters

Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State who served under President George W. Bush, renewed his endorsement of President Barack Obama on Thursday.

Speaking with CBS “This Morning,” Powell, a Republican, said the country was in "very difficult straits" when Obama was elected.

“I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I will be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month,” Powell told the hosts of the morning program.

Powell, who once called Obama a “transformational figure,” said the president gets his vote for a second term because, “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,” Powell added. “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.”

But Powell said that doesn’t mean other economic woes don’t persist.

“Generally we’ve come out of the dive and we're starting to gain altitude,” he said. “The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing, but I see that we're starting to rise up.”

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level since January 2009, when Obama first took office. Government survey found an increasing number of people being employed, with a boost in part-time work.

Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race for the White House. Real Clear Politics’ average polling data shows both men tied at 47.7 percent for Romney with Obama at 47 percent.

A Reuters/Ipsos online tracking poll gave Romney a slim edge Wednesday, 47 percent to 46 percent.