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. CNN Message Bds, paid for by Obama '08

    This non-story brought to you by the new line of "faith-based merchandise", now available at BarackObama.com .

    September 15, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. nin ja

    OBAMA 08!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Obama the real deal!!!!!!!!!!

    The world is watching and holding their breath. They are praying and wishing that Americans can once in their lives grow grey matter.
    Obama the smart, fresh and sane choice!!!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Andy

    Not only will an Obama victory be electrifying... think about how deflating a McCain victory will be to the country? & to the world? Most ppl would lose any hope they had for government that works.

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Darrel from Denver

    Electrifying, along with his earlier comments, strongly suggests he is leaning toward Obama, to me.

    This is a man I would have voted for. I trust his judgment.

    McCain/Palin '08? ... Thanks, But No Thanks

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Diane

    Here is a man we can all respect. I wish HE were running!

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. A Boston

    Don't worry! I'm reading between the lines Powell..

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08'

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Craig C

    The fact that Powell, a Republican, has not endorsed McCain/Palin reflects poorly on the GOP ticket. I'm a former Republican who not only has "had it" with where the party has taken this country, but am actually excited about Obama/Biden. Maybe Powell feels the same way.

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Sean

    someone should ask Sarah Palin to define "fundamentals of the economy" Let's see if she has an easier time explaining that then what the VP does or What the Bush Doctrine is!

    September 15, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Florida Gold

    Mr Powell state away from my next President the honorable Barack Obama.You are a disgrace for my country you sold us out with your misserables lies in front of the whole world in a way to invade Irak , by doing so you incriminate yourself in the murder of more than four thousand of our best soldiers of AMERICA,shame on you Mr Collin Powell

    September 15, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Jenna, NY

    This only means one thing. He's voting for Obama but knows he'd be hated by his party if he thought for himself. It's a tough call but hopefully he'll pull through..... This is definitely pro-Obama news!

    September 15, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. CNN Message Bds, paid for by Obama '08

    Eh, non-story.

    I am intrigued by how fast Obama got out to Colorado after Palin spoke this morning. Could he be any more obsessed over her? Good Lord, his campaign has fallen off-message completely.

    September 15, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. PK

    What would have been cool if Obama chose Powell as his VP. Wow, now that would have been electrifying. However, Biden is a terrific pick. It demonstrates Obama's kine foresight and forward thinking.

    September 15, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. AJ

    That's great to hear. Yes, it will be electrifying. Not only McCain is lying , so is Palin. She is talking like Obama's VP more than McCain's. She was saying McCain and her are going to Washington and straighten out Wall Street and CEO's. Who is she kidding? They are in bed with Wall Strret and the CEO's. They want to cut corporate taxes, deregulate the financial sector and everything else. She is campaigning like a democrat but this fake talking points is not going to work. All advisors like Nancy whoever are talking nonsensical talking points – she is quoting unknown economists and blurting out bull.

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Eli

    PLEASE do we have to wonder who he is voting for. This election is a JOKE, it was the day the DEMOCRATS HEADS forced or TRIED to force us to vote for Obama, instead of Hillary the one the TRUE DEMOCRATS wanted. If it was not for some old DEMOCRATS that came running out to PROP Obama up everythime he failed in the primaries we would not be in this mess now.

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Dave

    "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."

    Enough Said,

    Obama-Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Independent_me

    Powell is wise to wait and not act hastily. Having been scorched by Bush, I wouldn't be to quick to trust any Republican candidate if I were he...

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. POWELL GOT SCREWED BY THE GOP

    Yessir!

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. debbie

    Who cares? Is anyone going to vote for Mccain or Obama because Powell wants you to?

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. mitchell

    he'll be voting for obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Peter (CA)

    C'mon General Powell, this would seal it once and for all.

    I am tired of hearing the BS about Obama being a communist, a terrorist, and whatever else the deluded minions of the RNC come up with. A lot of people (including my very conservative father-in-law) look up to you.

    Obama/Biden....the only ones who can bring change.

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. hurriCAIN PALIN

    an “exciting person on the political stage."

    “He has energized a lot of people in America,”

    “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.”

    NOBAMA may be a fresh face in politics, but what has he actually done for his country, what "change" has he brought to politics -congress – house – senate

    everybody has to stop drinking the kool-aid, too much can be real bad for you

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Selling Jets on Ebay for America

    This is as close to a non-story as has been posted all week.

    September 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. KATHLEEN

    ATTENTION: Karl Rove is pandering between BOTH parties
    because HE WORKS FOR FOX and he has been accused
    of possibly having a conflict of interest between FOX NEWS
    AND McCain-Palin ticket which, of course, it has been noted
    that he had a lot of clout in choosing Palin.

    GET THE REAL STORY ON Fox New's Karl Rove being involved
    in the pick of Palin for McCain. GET THE REAL STORY on a–hole
    ROVE!!!!!!! He has not changed!!! Give us a break CNN!!!!!
    WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.!!!!!!

    Obama, above all, should not be deterred from speaking about
    issues! McCain has nothing to lose by antagonizing Obama, since
    McCain has already talked about all that is on his and Palin's
    agenda. All McCain Palin have le

    Obama-Biden.2008
    OBAMA-BIDEN SHOULD TALK ABOUT ISSUES TO THE AMERICAN
    PEOPLE!!!!! NOW!

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Powell is backing Obama

    Powell is backing Obama, he just can't publicly say it because he's a Republican and still has ties to Bush and the rest of the party. If he came out and publicly endorsed Obama that would prove how McCain and the rest of the Bush party is unfit for Washington.

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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