05/22/2012 05:06 pm ET Updated May 22, 2012

Colin Powell Can Support Anyone, But Obama Has 'Exemplary' Record, White House Spokesman Says

WASHINGTON -- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday downplayed the fact that former Secretary of State Colin Powell won't commit to endorsing President Barack Obama again. But that didn't stop Carney from running through all of the reasons why he should.

Powell, who served in the Bush administration, was asked earlier Tuesday whether he planned to buck his party again and endorse Obama as he did in 2008, when he called Obama "a transformational figure." He demurred.

"I always keep my powder dry, as they say in the military," Powell said during an interview on NBC's "Today." He said Obama deserves credit for stabilizing the financial system and the auto industry during his time in office, but that the president should have spent more time on the economy and closed the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Carney responded that Powell, a retired four-star general and the only African American to have ever served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is free to endorse whomever he chooses.

"The president appreciated Gen. Powell's support four years ago," Carney said during his daily briefing. "Obviously, he had served in several Republican administrations, was a self-identified Republican. It's up to him and every American to decide whom they will support going forward."

Still, in the event that Powell wasn't aware of Obama's accomplishments, Carney went ahead and listed them.

"In the national security realm, which I think has particular resonance with Gen. Powell, the president's record has been judged to be exemplary by outside observers and commentators," he said.

Obama has been successful in "taking the fight effectively to al Qaeda" and in "ending the war in Iraq," Carney said. The president has also been pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan as part of a broader effort to "begin to end that war."

"These are all significant accomplishments that the president has achieved, just in the past three and a half years," he said.