September 15th, 2008
08:11 PM ET
6 years ago

Powell still undecided, says Obama win would be 'electrifying'

Powell, a Republican, has said he may not back the GOP pick this cycle.
Powell, a Republican, has said he may not back the GOP pick this cycle.

(CNN) - Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that he has not yet decided which candidate to back in this year’s presidential race.

The election of an African-American president “would be electrifying,” Powell told a George Washington University audience, “but at the same time [I have to] make a judgment here on which would be best for America.

“I have been watching both individuals, I know them both extremely well, and I have not decided who I am going to vote for. And I'm interested to see what the debates are going to be like because we have to get off of this ‘lipstick on a pig’ stuff and get into issues,” he said.

Powell's full comments will air on “The Next President: A World of Challenges” this Saturday night at 9pm ET and again Sunday at 2pm ET.

Last month, as the retired general’s office denied a report that he had decided to publicly back Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, several sources told CNN’s John King that Powell was still undecided. “As always, he is holding his cards close and waiting for more information," one adviser close to Powell told CNN’s John King.

Earlier this year, Powell told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he was weighing an endorsement of a Democrat or independent candidate. “I am keeping my options open at the moment,” said Powell.

“I have voted for members of both parties in the course of my adult life. 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,” he added.

Powell also offered praise for Obama, 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.”

Last month, a Powell adviser told CNN that "he likes and admires John McCain, and that would be a factor in anything he does if he decides to get more involved."

Another source close to Powell said that he has known McCain for more than three decades “and likes him, and is looking for a reason to vote for him. He hasn't found it yet."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Colin Powell • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Eric-29-m-PA

    Yeah, because he's black! We all know which they're voting. Pretty sad.

    September 15, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Gapon

    Is it with him Race or Program?

    September 15, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Independent-Latina-for-OBAMA

    Poor Colin Powell, he has been brow beaten enough that now he is afraid to take a stand. When he choose to align himself with the Bush/Cheney regime, he sold his soul.

    Come on, Mr. Powell, redeem yourself by standing up for CHANGE!

    September 15, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Xavier, Saint Louis, Missouri

    DITTO! OBAMA ALL THE WAY!

    NO WAY, NO HOW, NO MCCAIN, NO PALIN!

    September 15, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Katie - Atlanta

    And McCain would be terrifying!

    September 15, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Douglas Marshall Jr.

    He's voting for OBAMA.

    If McCain had his vote he would come out and say it.

    September 15, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Dee Jay a young republican

    yoooooooooooooo we miss you Colin

    The best sec of State ever

    He knows whats the best choice

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Steve, Madison WI

    I always liked Powell as I feel his is a reasoned, intelligent man – his only bad moment was letting Bush talk him into telling lies to the UN.

    Hopefully, he makes a reasoned choice and backs Obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Linda from Prescott AZ

    Come on General Powell, you know Obama is the right choice.

    September 15, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Josh

    He's exactly right, let's get to the issues!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Andy

    Obama's fired up, & puts the HEAT in DEAD HEAT.

    Guess what McCain puts?

    September 15, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Shari, NY

    Oh, Mr. Powell, I believe you and Ms. Rice are on Obama's side because you are smart people. What a waste of talent you both are!

    September 15, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. txgal44

    Oh please Powell! You know you're voting for Obama!! You know it and I know it! What other choice is there?

    September 15, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Ruby, Kansas

    More politics! Powell already has the "information" he needs to endorse a candidate. Powell is merely waiting for McCain to fall flat on his face so it won't appear as though he (Powell) is going against the Republican party. Politics!

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Turnabout is fair play

    It's okay Colin, we all know you are going to vote for the honesty and truth you see in Obama so you don't have to hide how ya feel. :-) We're voting for him too!

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. McPALIN

    Exactly, not enough reason to vote for the war monger. He doesn't want to contradict and vote for McSame only to continue a war that he disagreed off.

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Kim

    Come on Powell. You have always been a man of Honor. Forget your ties to Bush and admit the obvious truth. You are for Obama as is every American with an IQ over 100.

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Abby

    Endorse obama already. Speak your conscience.

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Obama WILL win FL

    Obama's win will return our GREAT Country to a place of GREAT respect around the world. We will have MORE friends who work with us around the world.

    September 15, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Vincent

    Powell on an Obama ticket would be electrifying as I have always liked Mr. Powell especially with all the B.S. he had to deal with in this administration.

    I trust his judgment more than anyone else's.

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Accountant Guy

    Powell knows that Obama is the only candidate that can save our country which is going down the drain quickly!! THANKS, BUT NO THANKS ON MCCAIN/PALIN!!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. randy

    please powell make the endorsement.
    i know it will happen.

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. fella from Chicago

    Yo Colin, Barack is black and you're black. It's ok to say you'll back him. America expects it. Same with Oprah. That's what's wrong with this country. Ya see, America knows blacks are just as racist as whites. So Colin come out and endorse Barack, you'll feel better.

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Elizabeth

    I have great respect for Colin Powell and was disgusted to see him thrown under the bus by the Bush administration. I'd love to see this intelligent and talented man stand up for Barack Obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. Yes, we can

    McCain: "We will stop multimillion-dollar payouts to CEOs who have broken the public trust." How much severance payment did Carly Fiorina (McCains adviser) take home after destroying Hewlett-Packard? – $21 million in cash, which was 2.5 times her base annual salary. And the Oscar for economic flip flopper goes to...Mccain

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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