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. michael

    obama should pick powell to be his running mate

    February 9, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. dynodem

    Colin Powell, the Bush salesman for the war in Iraq.

    February 9, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. steve

    Hi< "america;s best political teeam," I wish you could have spent sometime warning the people of the tornadoes that happened the past few days. If you did lots of lives I think would have been saved.....but as always you are in a ratings game and that wasn't important enough.

    February 9, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. john CA



    February 9, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Neal

    Did we not loose some of our international credibility through much of Powell's doing at the UN. Is this him trying to redeem himself for the mess he helped create?

    February 9, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Rodney/Texas

    Thanks, for posting this. It should be forwarded to Bill Clinton. Rodney/Texas

    February 9, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Eric


    I respect your comments. But what has experience got us in the last 7 years. Also what experience does Hillary have?

    Can someone PLEASE tell me that?

    Plus we need to think about electibility.

    OBAMA '08

    February 9, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Braineel

    Colin Powell,

    I am very glad to see you back in the public eye. The current administration did you a great disservice in my eyes. I hope your venture capital endeavors are going well. Thank you so much for adding your voice to the chorus of people excited to see Barack Obama's electrifying influence on this election.

    February 9, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Veronica Ward

    The point is, that while people are shouting that Obama is "inexperienced", why would Colin Powell offer him praise? I don't think Colin Powell has endorsed anyone, but it certainly sounds like if he did, it would be Obama. I think he likes Obama's style and he knew it took a "lot of guts" as a black man, to decide to run for office. Powell had that chance in 1996 and declined and I just think he regrets that choice. Powell could have been in Obama's shoes and no one would say, "oh he's all talk." Besides, the Bush administration made Powell look like a joke as he (as did Hillary Clinton) believed all the lies they told him about Iraq as well.

    February 9, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. George Nixon

    I have held Colin Powell in esteem since first being exposed to him in the first Gulf war. He to me appears to be a man of impeccable integrity. When he left the Bush administration, I felt that it was because of an affront to this integrity. I know for certain now that my guess was correct.
    I would welcome his inclusion into the soon to come new administration, be it Democratic or Republican, as a sign that real change is afoot and integrity based.

    February 9, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Dana

    This is a man who could've been President, had he run. While I never liked his deference to Bush, he retained enough dignity to earn my continued respect. I look forward to hearing from him – it sounds like he' may support Obama.

    February 9, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. AB

    I'm tired of hearing about experience, look at ALL the experience in Washington yet they voted the dumbest war in history. Its costing American's billions a month. Where was all the experience when this dumb idea was being put to the vote.

    February 9, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. Bill in Claymont,DE

    TO JOE IN WILM.DE; It's quite obvious who Powell is going to back, but only if he is the Democratic choice.This country has been and will be for a long time to come,DIVIDED.The BLACKS have proven in the past that if a black man runs that's who they will vote for,just look at PHILA.And if you really want to see division then let Obama be the choice for the Democrats,thats just the way it is.I made my mind up who I was voting for before Obama got in the run.But if he is the choice I'm voting for him.McCAIN IS JUST MORE BUSH!

    February 9, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Jake, California

    So people are bound to hate anyone who give even a little positive comment about Obama...I didn't think Americans could be this hateful and irrational.

    I see the tired experience thing cropping up again, didn't we decide that this was not significant?

    Do you think Bush was inexperienced when he decided to go after Al Quaeda?
    Do you think Hitler was inexperienced when he decided to conquer Europe and the world?
    What we should be looking at now is how good are a person value judgment, decision making power and his/her ability to amicably work with all manner of people.

    For the presidency of the United States and any nation for that matter, these qualities are very urgent and should take precedence over experience. To say that experience should take precedece over them would mean that only former presidents should become presidents again since they would have the required presidential experience..which makes no sense so since none of the current candidates running has any presidential experience, no one should be blowing hot air about any experience at all.

    There are jobs where experience can take precedence over value judgment...For example, a Doctor needs to know exactly what to do for his/her patient....A computer engineer needs to be crisp with accuracy etc so yes these areas would probably require more experience than value judgment!

    We have had too many bad 'experiences' with experienced people becoming presidents to the point that experience can only be a plus not a necessity for this job.
    Obama has held elected office for 11years vs Hillary with 8years and so has the necessary plus experience in addition to his superb value judgment and amicability !

    February 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Kathy

    Actually, Mike from Houston, Lincoln and Bill Clinton both had less experience than Obama. Clinton was younger, too.

    Nice try, though.

    February 9, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Fuzz Leonard

    All presidents begin their first terms with zero experience being president. This is a tradition that goes back to George Washington.

    Obama has as impressive as resume as anyone his age. An age which the framers of the Constitution agreed was old enough to be president.

    February 9, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Minda Lillie

    The first thing Powell said was that he is a republican. If he were to support Obama, we know its for the same reason 88% of the African-American community is doing so. Unfortunately it seems that its O.K. for people to vote because of the skin color of the candidate, but not because of the gender? Give me a break, I am so disgusted that this implies if your black, you might actually support the black guy, just because he is black. What a farce. Maybe we should all just let the men keep the White House they sure don't do a good job, but after all they won't vote for a woman. That is so stupid!

    We actually need someone who can do the job. We have had enough of feel good candidates who people want to have a beer with like Bush. What is it about this likability thing anyway. I don't even care if I like or don't like the Pres. What I care about is the policies they are trying to implement. The reason I am for Hillary and not Obama is not because of race or gender. Its because I think she is the most qualified for the job and I support universal health care, better education, steady foreign policy and better economic fairness and a rising tide instead of only the wealthy benefiting as in this administration. McCain is more of the same and Obama is too inexperienced and too vague, and frankly can't do what he says he wants to do. We all just can't get along because we all just don't agree.

    February 9, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. SecularAnimist

    Colin Powell now says we need "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."

    Indeed the USA has lost a lot of the world's confidence and has come to be viewed unfavorably in recent years, and Colin Powell has a large responsibility for that, from the time that he sat before the United States Security Council and unleashed a barrage of blatant, deliberate, elaborate, and sickening lies about what the Bush administration knew at the time to be a nonexistent "threat" from nonexistent "Iraqi WMD." Powell was right out in front trumpeting those lies alongside Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, and thanks to the respect that many people had for him, he may have been the most effective liar of them all. Powell has the blood of tens of thousands of murdered Iraqi civilians on his hands, and is every bit as culpable for the Bush administration's criminal war of unprovoked aggression against Iraq as Bush or Cheney or the other principals of the Bush administration. But now he speaks of the world's loss of confidence and respect for the USA is something that "just happened" in "recent years" as though he had nothing to do with it.

    February 9, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Joe, KC

    Hey, Mike from Houston. You should look up Abraham Lincoln.

    February 9, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. kevin from alaska

    Who cares?

    This guy is one of the reasons we're in Iraq.

    He should've stepped up a lot bigger against the Bush machine. I lost a lot of respect for this man.

    February 9, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Earl, Ohio

    I hope whomever wins the presidency considers brining Powell back into the Executive branch in a capacity that is respectful of his abilities and does not belittle his opinions. He is one of the few great Americans left in the political arena. I think h would be part of a great cabinet which included him as Secretary of Defense and John Edwards as Attorney General.

    February 9, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Jen

    Pfffft. So what. Colin Powell has lost all credibility. Who cares about his opinion.

    February 9, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. x32792

    How many lives and trillions of dollars could this one man have saved if he had been a real Patriot and told the truth to the UN about WMD in Iraq?

    February 9, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. jasan

    This miserable liar got us into the war in the first place with his "support" for the liar and chief, bush. I think that the Democratic Party will do just fine without this bottom dwellers support...

    February 9, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Karen, Jersey City

    Are my comments too offensive to be posted on the CNN website? Here they are again! I've noticed a pattern with the moderators, they don't want too many positive Obama comments on their site... not sure why... ANYWAY!!!


    General Powell:

    Thank you Sir ! I have always admired General Colin Powell for his service to our country and as a man of integrity. I truly hope and pray that General Powell will endorse Senator Barack Obama ! That alone will bring our great country together and make a great standing on the world stage. Countries across the world love General Powell and so do we!

    February 9, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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