Powell made a contribution to McCain's campaign, CNN has learned.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN has learned the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain received a check Wednesday from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, providing a symbolic boost to the Arizona Republican's struggling White House bid.
McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker confirmed the contribution, telling CNN, "The Senator appreciates the support of General Powell." Powell's office did not return calls seeking comment.
According to a review of Federal Election Commission records, Powell has not donated to any other candidate this year.
While the McCain campaign would not be more specific about the contribution, a source familiar with the matter said the check totaled $2,300, the maximum an individual can give to any one candidate in the primary season, hinting at a likely endorsement in the future.
McCain advisers are privately thrilled about the contribution from the highly-respected retired Army General, which simultaneously reinforces the senator's credentials as an independent-minded Republican and a strong voice on national security issues.
It also gives the McCain camp a rare bit of positive news after weeks of media stories about staff shake-ups, disappointing fundraising numbers and heavy conservative criticism of the the senator's position on immigration reform - all of which have turned the presumed Republican front-runner into a longshot for the GOP nomination.
Advisers say McCain has been privately expressing regret that early in the campaign, he tried too hard to model his bid after the successful campaigns of President Bush and it never quite felt right. The senator is now privately pledging to do it "my way" by trying to be more of the maverick he was in his 2000 White House bid. The question now, advisers admit, is whether it's too late for the senator to recapture some of the magic of the "old McCain" from that race.
UPDATE: Powell spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino confirmed to CNN that the retired General made the contribution after learning that the senator’s campaign was low on funds, though she stressed this is not a formal endorsement of the candidate.
“John is a longtime friend of General Powell’s,” said Cifrino. “But he has not endorsed John McCain nor any other candidate.”
As for whether there will be an endorsement down the road, she said it “remains to be seen” and would not speculate.
– CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry