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. That Other Jerry

    Pleeeeeeze run for President, Colin! The two most intelligent people in Washington (sometimes I think the ONLY two intelligent people in Washington) also happen to be a black man and a black woman. It's just too much to hope for I suppose...

    Powell/Rice 20-any year!

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. john

    Obama because hes black or McCain because hes best for America. no wonder he blew it at the U.N

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. LB

    Oh please Powell. I really like you. Don't be pulled in by this deceiver. Obama is nothing more than a Daly machine thug. You know better. Please come to your senses.

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. temi

    MCCAIN:

    ECONOMY———IS———HARDER———BETTER———FASTER———STRONGER

    LETS———GET———LOST———TONIGHT

    YOU———COULD———BE———MY———BLACK———KATE———MOSS———TONIGHT

    PALIN———PLAY———SECRETARY———IM———THE———BOSS———TONIGHT

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

    Mr. Powell, please, show openly your support for Obama! You see yourself how crazy is the opposite side! What will happen to our country? You've been there, when Iraq nightmare started. You can at least partially soften your guilt by openly supporting Obama/Biden now.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. Capablanca

    People should look at the record of reform of each candidate. A candidate with only rhetoric and nothing to speak of in terms of record should be discarded. I will leave it up to the readers to fill in the blanks....

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Frank

    I am surprised to see somebody so highly intelligent as Powell not being able to decide after almost 2 years of campaigning. The facts are on the table, the lies are being smudged into (republican) adds ... why not stand up and stop the McCain Hate Campaign ?

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. Independant in Atlanta

    Powell could play the referee. Lets get back to the Issues.

    September 15, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Rob

    Powell will back Obama. Because he is Black? No way . Powell don't roll that way. Powell will support Obama because Obama is the Smart one and the honest one. Like Powell himself.

    September 15, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. Jimmy, IL

    Powell is increasingly becoming irrelevant. If he wanted to make a difference, he would join the Obama camp. If he wants to fade away, he can stand on the sidelines like he's doing.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Bud in TN

    His failure to endorse McSame is pretty telling indeed.

    September 15, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Ramie (atlanta)

    He would've been a better VP pick than either Biden or Palin

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. S-Man

    Say out loud Powell – Obama '08

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Wow, What Gives?

    Old soldiers never die, they just stand on the sidelines.

    O/B 08

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Tim

    We want to know about Michigan and Ohio preventing citizen from voting in a cretain district if their name appears on a housing forclosure list. I wonder why the Republicans are pressing this in two states that are closely contested? Talk about win a any cost!!! It's bad enough that people have lost their houses, now we want to hinder tham from voting? CNN this subject needs to be on the ticker and you need to ask McCain and Obama what they think about it. Do your jobs and report the news CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and FOX!!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Selling Jets on Ebay for America

    On a day when Obama could have taken the ball on the economy and run with it, all he came up with was "Oh no he won't!!!!" regarding McCain's promises to reform Wall Street......and CNN focuses on non-stories like "Colin Powell is undecided"......

    Unfortunate....

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Joyce, ny

    I don't know where these people are polling but I really believe this election won't even be close.
    It's the media who is hyping this up so they have some news.
    Everywhere you go across this country you can see change is what the people want not a 3rd term Republican administration.

    As for Powell, I really hope he tries he best to make up for selling that war to UN by endorsing Barrack.

    September 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Douglas, Los Angeles California

    As this campaign matures, America is starting to wake up. He knows as the rest of America that Obama/Biden is the best thing we've got going for real "Change."

    September 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Bob

    Good man, Good words!

    September 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. We love Sarah

    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."

    If after 30 years you can't find a reason, then don't support McCain!!

    September 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Ted

    Come on, Colin...

    September 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Gary

    He knows who he is voting for. He's not stupid. He just won't say.

    September 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Scott, Wichita

    Please run, Colin!
    You're the only politician we can trust anymore!

    September 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Barbara - NC

    WHATTT?? HP cutting more US Jobs? After McCain's advisor (Carley Fiorina) ran it into the ground and outsourced MOST of the jobs already?

    Is that REFORM WE NEED?

    God help this country. The Republicans are out of control and selling our country to the cheapest bidder !!

    September 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Ralph

    The worst this economy gets, the more afraid I am of Obama being in way over his head.

    September 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7