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. Walt

    With his experience and credentials, I am surprised that he is not offended by the possibility of Palin being president.

    September 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. Bulldog

    If you know John McCain for 3 decades and still don't have a good reason to vote for him then I don't know if you ever will. Powell is a decent and honorable man, and McCain is lost his honor in this campaign. That doesn't mean he will vote for Obama, but if McCain can not run an honorable campaign then how can you trust him in the White House?

    September 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. dennise

    Both Powell and Rice are not saying who their for because their voting for Obama and they don't want break ranks with their own party...As far as McCain's comment of desperate...I'm sorry McCain is the desperate person between his false ads, lies, and stealing Obama's slogan. He's just down right pathetic.

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. what a coward!

    Why wait? You should know Obama and McCain very well and how you line up your beliefs with either one of them.

    Hiding behind the curtain is plain coward. Just like McCain, he took advantage of Obama's VP announcement and convention before he can announce his. I'm very sure McCain flipped from Tim Pawlenty or other candidate for the Lipstick chic after Obama picked Biden.

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. mark

    Obama for prez and Powell for sec of defense

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Sandra

    Mr Powell.
    You are a much respected man. Hopefully you will jump onboard for Obama/Biden now rather than later. This election is too important for anyone to stand on the sidelines who may make a difference!

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. Moderate Republican for Obama

    I respect Powell so much. I consider him a Moderate Republican like myself. I voted for McCain in the 2000 primary and voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. I have decided to support OBAMA-BIDEN because I feel in my heart and mind that this is the right choice for America over the next 4 years.

    Dems, Moderates and Independents, and Republicans who know better, vote for OBAMA-BIDEN in 2008! And, I hope Powell follows suit.

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Carl from MI

    Hmm... even Powell is waiting for the McCain campaign to lay off the lipstick faked outrage and finally address the issues.

    WAKE UP, AMERICA!!! VOTE SMART… NOT SENILE!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Arkansas Undertaker

    Well, I feel Like an endorsment from COlin Powell carries a lot of weight and it would do wonders to change the direction of this Presidential race.

    Either of the candidates would be licky to recieve an endorsment from General Powell. I think he would have a much easier decision to make if the candidate would start focusing more on the issues instead of insults and lies.

    September 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. Warmonger

    John McCain is not the brightest bulb in the box, either. He has to stay on script himself. But then again, he doesn't have to be smart to say "I declare war". That's easy, so suit up people, we'll have another maniac in the White House for at least 4 years.

    You say, it takes an act of Congress to start a war, well not after the Bush Doctrine. We're living in a nightmare folks.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. BK

    Yea we know who he is voting for. With the 95%.

    September 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Texas

    Someone has to be blind to think that McCain can do the job better than Obama. OBAMA is what America needs now

    September 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  13. CB

    I'm praying Powell will come out in full support of Obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  14. Bev

    I haven't yet found a reason to vote for mcsame. I respect Powell and felt the bush administration done him wrong. I hope he sees what everyone else knows...mcain=bush-no way, no how, no mccain, no palin.
    Go Obama!!

    September 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Buster

    Colin Powell is a kitty kat for staying on the sidelines and covering for the Republicans and BUSH/CHENEY who USED HIM as cover for their LIES about IRAQ and WMD's.

    Who cares what he thinks anymore. He lost his credibility by not stepping up and telling the truth a LONG time ago.

    September 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  16. jle

    Colin Powell's endorsement used to mean something. After his role in helping us get into the Iraq War, it means much less now.

    September 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Powell

    Colin -now if you were the one running to be the First African American President I would vote for you in a minute. You put rings around Obama and YOU would be electrifrying!!

    September 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. Selling Jets on Ebay for America

    Joe Biden stumped today in Michigan.

    Biden is stumped anyplace he happens to open his mouth.

    September 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Raymond Christopher

    Colin Powell lost much of his stature as a influential voice in America when he stood by as Bush and Cheney rushed to war with Iraq on spurious grounds.

    Who should now pay attention to Powell?

    September 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  20. Florida Gold

    I forgot to tell you Mr Powell you don`t have to wait to decide who you are going to vote for. You can remain with your unqualified party .We do not need your tainted bloody hands in our Democratic Party.Please do not come near us and that`s for the only thing I would thank you.

    September 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Todd

    This is a joke. Can we talk about the elephant in the room!
    Why is this race so close. The answer is RACE!!!
    People don't feel "right" with Obama because he's not like them.

    CAN WE FINALLY BE HONEST??

    DOES THIS COUNTRY LOVE AFRICAN AMERICANS AS MUCH AS AFRICAN AMERICANS LOVE THIS COUNTRY?

    September 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    Well get off the couch and help him win then!!

    September 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. California Gold

    Who Colin Powell sayd he will vote for is a "nice to know" but not much more than that. I agree when Colin Powell says he will make his decision on who he thinks is good for the country. It's not a popularity contest.

    September 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Peter of Oregon

    I'm sure Powell will do what he believes is best for the country and circle in Barack Obama's name on the ballot box come November.

    September 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. CarolO McBain MI

    Just take a look at each candidates Vice and that should help make a decision. Palin has been caught in 4 lies in 2 weeks and it makes you wonder how much we'd find out if she had been around as long as the others.

    September 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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