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. Ralph

    Obama is in way over his head. This economy is going to take a person who knows what to do. If everything keeps failing, there won't be anyone making over $250,000.00, then where will all those taxes come from? I do believe Mccain can get it done.

    September 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. Steve Deming

    If possible I would appreciate this being forwardrd to Colin Powell:

    Mr. Secretary,

    I have sent this type of message to several indiduals who I feel are widely respected. I firmly believe that John McCain is useing out and out lies and distortions in his campaign.

    I think people of your need to state your thoughts as to what comments by either candidate is a lie or major distortion. I think it will take this to stop the negative campaign tone.

    Thanks,

    Steve Deming

    September 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Hi Russia, I'm Over Here

    With all due respect General, I don't care any more. You should choose sides, and that's that. Choose Barack if you're for America, choose McCain if you're for the lobbyist. It's really very simple.

    I don't see how anyone could be on the sidelines after watching the Palin interview. She's a joke, and so is John. If anyone thinks I'm voting for a ticket that has someone who thinks foreign policy means waving to Russia, they ought to have their head examined.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. J UAN CARLOS

    G E N E R A L,,,,,,,,,,,,,4 5 %,,,,,,,,,,,,,O F,,,,,,,,,,,,,,E L E C T O R A T E,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    I S ,,,,,,,,N O T ,,,,,,,,,,,,E L E C T R Y F Y I N G

    September 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. HUH?

    How can anyone be "undecided" at this point? Up until the VP was named, fair enough but now what is he waiting on?

    Come on Colin, step up for Obama!

    September 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Selling Jets on Ebay for America

    Wow, did anyone notice how CNN reports this?
    The title says Powell says that an OBAMA win would be an electrifying, theninside the story, where half of you dim-witted ninnies won't even read, then clarifies that Powel meant the possibility of electing an African-American President as a concept would be electrifying.

    Wow, the lack of unbiased reporting is shocking at best!!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Ethan

    If he hasn't decided on voting for McScam in three decades, why would he start now? He KNOWS that McScam will make us less safe abroad. I hope he endorses Barack if for no other reason than to make up for his involvement in the U.N. Iraq WMD debacle.

    September 15, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Woman voter from VA

    Mr. Powell,
    We appreciate you voting with your heart and what is the best interest of America.

    It's just interesting that he would consider voting against his party. At least we see he is a man who puts Country first!

    I guess it's troubling to see Palin fellow Alaskan women (and some males) had a Anti-Palin rally.

    As someone said, if you believe the REP hype I have a BRIDGE to sell you and it goes TO NOWHERE.

    September 15, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. Beverly, NYC

    Who are you trying to kidding General? After the way the Bush Administration youed your good name to sell the Iraq war, threw you under the bus, while Condi steped over you to take your job. Please if you're not for Obama, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

    September 15, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Independents For McCain

    Joe Biden took flak for his dopey description of Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,"

    What a great VP choice?

    September 15, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. Redphilly

    I like Colin Powell. If it were between him and Obama I don't know which I would choose. But only if they were both Democrats. If Powell were running as McCain's VP I, even though I am African-American, I could not vote for him because he does not represent my views on life. He is more like M$Cain. So all you people who say we black folks only vote black, I am not one of them. Not many of us are.

    September 15, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Amy

    Wow. Another high profile Republican who has yet to find a reason to vote for McCain/Palin. Interesting!

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Beverly, NYC

    Who are you trying to kidding General? After the way the Bush Administration used your good name to sell the Iraq war, threw you under the bus, while Condi stepped over you to take your job. Please if you're not for Obama, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. La Raza

    I love this man.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Jorge

    "'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."

    The most telling sentence in the whole article.

    Even though the general was flim–flammed by Bush/Cheney on the Iraq WMD issue, he is still one of the most trusted men in America.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. JC

    Colin Powell is an Intelligent & Wise Man. I trust his good judgement will lead him to vote for Barack Obama.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Mike in Houston

    If we get into the issues, Obama will lose in a landslide. He has no plan, no policy and no idea of what the presidency is like. He is, in a word, pathetic.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. BOOTSTOMPER

    Come on Colin you know McCain is angry and Palin is unqualified. You know in your heart that Obama is what this country needs.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. darwin

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

    Absolutely ... the static electricity created from the rush of cash sucked from our pockets by the enormous bureaucracy of an Obama administration would "electrify" everything. Very astute that Powell.

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Ron Baxter

    You have known someone for 30 years and you still don't know if you can endorse his run for the presidency?? He is from your political party?? silence or your lack of support for McCain is saying alot about whom you are supporting in this election!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Wisconsin Badger

    Sounds to me like another republican fleeing the GOP's sinking ship...funny that McCain's camp runs solely on military service for McCain's credentials for President, yet even some of the greatest military minds of our time aren't even fully convinced of his ability to lead us in this crucial time.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 15, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. nate

    'Do the right thing', Colin.

    September 15, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. Wilfred

    I have great respect for Colin Powell , as a man and a general.
    Backing Obama would be a mistake , almost as bad as Bush listening to Rumsfeld.

    September 15, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. Herman In LA

    Come on aboard the change we need Powell the water is just fine over here...

    Obama/Biden

    September 15, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Former Army

    I understand his wife's feelings, but it's too bad for the country he didn't run for President.

    September 15, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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