February 9th, 2008
09:45 AM ET
10 years ago

Colin Powell may support Democrat or Independent in ‘08


Watch Colin Powell discuss the presidential race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who served under President Bush, said Friday he may not back the GOP presidential nominee in November, telling CNN that “I am keeping my options open at the moment.”

“I have voted for members of both parties in the course of my adult life,” Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “And as I said earlier, I will vote for the candidate I think can do the best job for America, whether that candidate is a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent.”

Powell also offered praise for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, calling him an “exciting person on the political stage.

“He has energized a lot of people in America,” said Powell, who briefly weighed his own run for the White House in the mid-1990s. “He has energized a lot of people around the world. And so I think he is worth listening to and seeing what he stands for.”

Powell, who has largely steered clear of politics since leaving the administration in 2004, noted that the next president will need to work to restore America’s standing in the world.

“I will ultimately vote for the person I believe brings to the American people the kind of vision the American people want to see for the next four years,” he said. “A vision that reaches out to the rest of the world, that starts to restore confidence in America, that starts to restore favorable ratings to America. Frankly, we've lost a lot in recent years.”

Programming note: Tune in for the full interview with Colin Powell on “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer,” airing this Sunday, 11-1 PM, ET.

soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. Mike, Houston, TX

    Obama is exciting. Let's not forget however, that he if elected he would have the least experience of any president in history.

    February 9, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  2. Paula Angelique Hafner

    Hey now, if Colin Powel is in there, then it must be something else.

    February 9, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  3. mm

    Yesteday a frontpage line read "Bush wants 'more of same'" in endorsing McCain. I read the article and nowhere did Bush say that he wants "more of same."

    Here, it says "Powell offered praise" for Obama but it sounds like nothing more than him making an observation. I don't know the context in which it was said as the video doesn't show that part.

    February 9, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. Butters

    I heard the whole interview- he did just make an observation. He mentioned all the candidates for what they could bring to the table. He did not endorse anyone- he simply said he would review all candidates, listen to what they have to say. He said he has voted both parties in the past, and he would not let that stand in his way.

    February 9, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  5. Bruce

    Amazing how these public endorsements of support from more well-known people come every few hours. I wonder how staged is that? And, how can someone say they're not about the "establishment" when they fully surround themselves with exactly that.

    And, even more amazing, is all this "Change", Obama says he represents. Just what does that mean? It could clearly be interpreted in millions of ways. Especially since he's actually NOT took stands on REAL issues in his Senate voting record! I don't feel he represents me nor does he care about the issues that matter to me.

    I want someone ready to work for ALL of us from DAY ONE and that's HILLARY CLINTON. She's the TRUE CHANGE we all need!

    February 9, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  6. Rex

    Proof that Obama is truly a person who unites. Of course, already we have responses that suggest that it's only because both subjects are African-American.
    That my friends, is racism.

    February 9, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. Sandy

    What a dream ticket! Barack Obama and Colin Powell.



    February 9, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Geoff Smith, Clovis, CA

    Powell's legitimacy with me is in low standing until he shares more openly regarding the inner workings of the Bush administration in the lead up to war. Powell has been to loyal to Bush instead of to the American people.

    February 9, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Philly Dave

    Benvictor- He didn't endorse Obama he just made an observation that he has energized lots of people and is worth seeing what he's about. Its more an observation, like when Obama said Reagan transformed politics and Hilary got all bent out of shape. Why don't YOU be TRUTHFUL and say that despite Colin Powell being a great American all you see is a Black man. I am 'white' and I approved this message.......

    February 9, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  10. nithi

    Here is the man who lied together with Bush to go for war with Iraq. He shouldf be responsible for thousands of death in Irag. Who cares about his support. He is a lost cause.

    February 9, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Mike in Cleveland

    Mike, Houston, TX

    Nope wrong, Bush had 4-5 years as Govenor of Texas the only political office that he ever held. Obama has held elected office for since 1996, which if you notice is longer than Hillary too.

    February 9, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  12. maigoro

    Mr Powell's color is not the reason he supports Alabama. Is skin color the reason Bush supports McCain? I think Mr Powell has seen, been, socialized and worked with enough people in the world to able to make a sound judgment based on merits and ideas.

    For those of you thinking otherwise, I would suggest you thoroughly undergo an analysis of your thoughts, motives and racial prejudices. Even though Mr. Obama is a semi-black candidate please keep in mind that his mother is white. I am considered Caucasian, I had a very black great-grand mother and a grandmother who would be considered black in the USA. I loved them both very much and I love all my black relatives and friends and I respect them for who they are.

    February 9, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. Jay

    Why, because he's black? Why can't black people praise whites as well? Why can't black people vote for the best candidate instead of voting for the person because he's black? If you want to be recognized as equals then act like the rest of us. The race issue should not be part of this campaign but yet the black population is making it an issue with overwhelmingly voting for Obama. So ridiculous!

    February 9, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  14. CA

    Hate to break your hearts, but Powell was probed for a response on behalf of Obama. Watch the video. I saw the full interview live on TV.

    February 9, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. Zein

    Obama 08!.
    Obama stands a good chance of defeating the republicans especially his race Makes him harder to knock out.
    Look at what bill did in s.carolina ?It lead to his wife getting mere Votes.
    The repubs would think twice before bashing and that Gives obama the edge and advantage.

    Cnn Post this or i wont post again ..
    None gets posted ! Why Why !

    February 9, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Dems for Jesus

    It's official! Colin Powell has left Planet Bush and is now back on Planet Earth.

    Welcome back Colin!

    February 9, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Lydia

    What Colin Powell stated in the interview is he was going to carefully watch each candidate and choose the one he felt was best for America. He offered praise for all the candidates except for Huckabee whom he does not know well.

    It is quite pathetic that the Hillary supporters malign each African American who says a kind word about Obama as being racist but when whites endorse Hillary they are not referred to as racist and when women endorse her they are not called sexist.

    That is the type of devisiveness we need to end in America. Hillary supporters on this blog are a strong indicator of the type of president she would be if elected – a devisive one. We need to pull together as Americans and the best candidate to do that is Obama.

    February 9, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. Eva

    my comment has been on hold for moderation for 8 1/5 hours now; my last 3 cooments have not been posted! What's going on here?

    February 9, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. tmj

    I am a democrat, through and through. If I had my choice though, I'd cross party lines, I'd cross the world, just to vote for Mr. Powell's presidency. His endorsement of the Obama campaign would cement my vote. His direct involvement in his administration would mean the type of change Obama espouses is possible, that bipartisan cooperation is truly possible, and would establish credibility for a candidate with so little experience.

    His endorsement of the Clinton campaign would be utterly and completely meaningless.

    February 9, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. BobW

    "Obama is exciting. Let's not forget however, that he if elected he would have the least experience of any president in history."

    Our first president, George Washington, had even less political and legislative experience. Before the revolution, he was a land owner, farmer and militia leader. During the revolution, a general with a shaky military record and a lot of good people and pure luck on his side. He never held office before becoming president. So, experience was not a litmus test for his service in our highest office. What Washington brought to the office, was a higher ideal that eschewed the thought that America needed a monarch. He entered the office with a vision for a grand future and a desire to unify and heal the divisions of the revolution. In short, he was an advocate of change and innovation.

    Sounds more like Obama to me. So is it truth or fact that Obama would be the least experienced candidate to ever run for president? Look at the resume of some of other presidents. We have had presidents from all kinds of backgrounds that were not political or legislative.

    February 9, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. Lisa

    Obama will hardly be the "least experienced president in history," having the equivalent experience of at least two pretty good presidents - Andrew Jackson and a guy named Abraham Lincoln. The problem with Bush was not his lack of experience, but his lack of judgment, personal animosity toward Saddam Hussein, rank partisanship and tricky Dick Chaney.

    February 9, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  22. N. Malhotra

    "Surprise, surprise. He has been surrounded with people of experience his whole life, yet will support someone with little experience and little record of accomplishment. Will he be truthful about the reason for his endorsement?"

    Why don't you be truthful about your implications? Let me guess, a black man can't say anything positive about another black man without it being about race, right? Give me a break.

    You're right, Colin Powell has been surrounded with people of experience his whole life...and look where that's gotten him in the last 8 years. Maybe, just maybe, he's looking for something (or someone) different this time around?

    Note also that he didn't "endorse" Obama as you would like to think...he simply offered some praise and observation – and he said absolutely nothing different than political pundits (and they are white too! omg!) have been saying about Obama for weeks now.

    So please, if you're going to call out anyone on being truthful – maybe you should start with yourself.

    February 9, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. Former Rightie

    Just like Powell, I witnessed the Bush/Chaney/Rush/Rove leading Neo-Cons hijack the party and country into closed minded "my way or the highway thinking".

    Until the biased closed minded Neo-Cons and their hatred are gone, I will not be part of the "extremists" in the Republican party.

    There is nothing McCain could say short of a full apology for the actions of the Republican president and congress to the world that would change my mind.

    Obama or Clinton will get my vote only because a Republican will not. The "extremists" in the Republican party are becoming more dangerous than the "extremists" in the rest of the world.

    February 9, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  24. Lisa Gross

    I've always felt like Powell was thrown under the bus with the Iraq situation. He has redeemed himself in my opinion. He was used by the Bush administration. You go Mr. Powell, I too admire Obama!

    February 9, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. Paul

    There was a man from the state of Illinois who had served only one 2-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected president: Abraham Lincoln.

    February 9, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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