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. Larry

    I can't believe CNN has not reported on Obama's efforts to delay U.S. troop withdrawals in Iraq until after the election. CNN, I've never been more convinced that you're in the tank for Obama and are not giving fair and balanced news coverage.

    September 15, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Debby

    Oh Powell just pick the electrirying candidate and get it over with. When he bankrupts the US completely you will be more electrified. LOL

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. Lori

    I also can not wait for the debates. Obama is going to tear McMain a new one because McCain is so out of touch it's not even funny.

    McCain won't talk about the issues. Why?

    Palin wont talk about the issues. Why?

    At least Obama talks about the issues and offers solutions on how to fix them, and how to pay for it.

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Rodger

    Powell will back Obama...he will remain unable to find a reason to vote for McCain.

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

    Colin Powell is a very admirable and honorable American. There is little doubt he will eventually endorse the one candidate who can do the best job for America. Yes we can!

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. Andy

    McCain plays the POW card WELL. Isn't that a good reason POWELL?

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. BevAnn

    Senator Obama would do us all a great favor if Colin Powell had a prominent seat on his cabinet. That's all I have to say!

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Siddhartha

    A Powell endorsement, despite the stain on his reputation from the presentation to the UN, would be a clincher for either candidate.
    If I had to choose one, Obama definitely more so than McCain.

    September 15, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Pam

    Well if he's really go to go by they issues, then there's no way he can back McCain.

    September 15, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Tom in Delaware

    Sounds about as decisive as a Democratic Superdelagate.

    Maybe the debates with sway him.

    September 15, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. Sandy

    ELECTRIFYING TO SAY THE LEAST...IT SEEMS THE AIR HAS SEEPED OUT OF THE MCSANE AND FAILIN BALLOON. OBAMA/BIDEN WILL SURELY BE IN THE WHITEHOUSE AS MR.PRESIDENT AND MR. VP.

    September 15, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. No Palin No McCain NO WAY!!!

    Mr Powell

    Do the decent thing and support Obama NOW, please. Supporting McCain is the worst thing you could do for America. I bet you could find yourself a place in the Obama Administration, perhaps as Sec. of Defense!

    I don't blame you for the misinformation and lies you spoke to the U.N. You were hung out to dry by your old pal Georgie boy, who is maniacal, ego centric and a few cards short of a full deck!!

    No Way for McCain and Plain Palin.. She isn't who she pretends to be!! America is wiser and smarter than that!

    America must not become a 3rd world nation under McCain because he will start WW3..

    September 15, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Typing in all caps and whining about Rove isn't an argument.

    Wow, such unbiased reporting, cnn.....Pfttttt.....please.

    These "stories" should have to include the disclaimer "Paid for by Obama/Biden 2008".

    September 15, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Barbara - NC

    Colin Powell was lied to also. He is a man I respect very much.

    Hate to spoil the kind thoughts for Powell with the following, but you people need to remember:

    Palin (when mayor of Wasilla) took a small town with a balanced budget and "reformed it" so that when she left, that same town was $20 million in debt.

    This is Reform WE DO NOT NEED FOR THE UNITED STATES.

    Also, Fiorina as an advisor? She ran HP into the ground and outsourced all those jobs. DO YOU REALLY WANT MORE OF THE SAME? Your choice.

    September 15, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. DJ Los Angeles

    WELL...then Mr. Powell in that case you need to step up to the plate and "formally" endorse Senator Obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. diana, Los Angeles

    Liberals are just desparate... its really easy to calls people liers and "just makes stuff up"... if only you can see how foolish you look and appear. I hope you continue attaking McCain/Palin.. it only brings more people to the RIGHT side (the conservative side). Colin Powel, please stay on the right path, as this country does NOT need a bigger government. The liberal congress has created this mess witht he subprime loans and greedy wall street buying up this mess. Let the chips fall, cause we need to suffer conseqences before one learns.

    September 15, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. cheryl

    C'mon Colin...Join the Obama party...

    you know you wanna....

    September 15, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. CNN Message Bds, paid for by Obama '08

    Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) had to hire a forensic acc’t just to figure out how much he cheated on his own taxes.

    Hey, did anyone notice that CNN hasn’t reported on that story yet?
    Hmmmm…..

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

    Does it matter what Colin Powell thinks because he's black or because he has a good handle on all the important issues we as Americans face? How about economics? How about lower taxes? How about rights for all citizens, including the unborn? How about rights for citizens, not illegal aliends? Let's listen to someone who speaks with a rational, logical, and clearly moral perspective. Is that Colin Powell?

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Enlightened Voter

    The mere fact that he has not endorsed the man of his party, mccain, should speak volumes. We all know Powell supports Barack.

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Phil Thompson

    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."

    That says it all right there

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Pennsylvania Voter

    Let me explain what this means to Republicans: he's voting for Obama but doesn't want to say it yet.

    Just be happy he's not just openly coming out for him yet.

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. unbelievable

    The fact that Colin Powell still can't decide–especially after all of McCain's most recent lies–makes me lose a lot of the respect I had for him.

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Michael G.

    Yes Colin, Obama would be electrifying, as much as your support of the War in Iraq at the UN was shocking. Shame on you. You knew better than to be used and duped by the likes of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rove.

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Candy West Virginia

    Alan Greenspan said that mccain's economic plan would destroy this country financially.

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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