August 13th, 2008
06:26 PM ET
14 years ago

Colin Powell adviser: He has not yet made his pick

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Powell, a Republican, has said he may not back the GOP pick this cycle."]

(CNN) - Colin Powell’s office denied a FOX report by commentator Bill Kristol Wednesday that the retired general had decided to publicly back Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

Several sources told CNN the former Bush Secretary of State has not yet made a decision about a possible endorsement. “As always, he is holding his cards close and waiting for more information," one adviser close to Powell told CNN’s John King.

Powell himself brushed off queries on any potential presidential nod, but told ABC News Wednesday afternoon that he would not be going to Denver. "I do not have time to waste on Bill Kristol's musings,” he said. “I am not going to the convention. I have made this clear."

In February, 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 Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, 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.”

On Wednesday, Powell’s adviser said 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."

The former general, who has largely steered clear of politics since leaving the Bush administration in 2004, noted that the next president will need to work to restore America’s standing in the world.

“I will ultimately vote for the person I believe brings to the American people the kind of vision the American people want to see for the next four years,” he said. “A vision that reaches out to the rest of the world, that starts to restore confidence in America, that starts to restore favorable ratings to America. Frankly, we've lost a lot in recent years.”

On Wednesday, Powell’s adviser said that the vice presidential picks for both candidates would be a major factor in his decision, both for the quality of each man’s running mate and what sort of “signal that choice sends about the character and judgment of the candidate."

He also said that a Powell decision to back Obama would not be a surprise – but a decision to attend the Democratic convention would be.

Filed under: Colin Powell
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Sam Willer

    Even Powell is admitting that America has been ruined by Bush

    August 13, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. Taita

    This would be great if Colin Powell endorses Obama cant wait to hear that Say Powell Obama

    August 13, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. NoMcSame

    Kristol is just trying to force you not to back Obama or back him in such a big way but you are a real and true MAN and not a snake like Kristol so do what you want to do. I hope to see you in Denver and up on the stage and hear what the slime ball Kristol would have to say then.

    August 13, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. Proud to be American

    Colin Powell we love you! even if was on the Bush team but had enough sense to back out after you was used to promote the senseless war <== i will not hold that against you.... hey in our hearts of hearts we know you are an Obama supporter you do not have to show your hand to us... just do the right thing in November ... yeah I am so sure you will!!! Peace to your inner being as you are a true American hero.

    August 13, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Matthew

    This man is GREAT! In my opinion, he is one of the great intellects currently living. Sound judgement and straight talking (something we are not getting from Senator McCain) make me wish this man would run for Presidnt or accept a VP spot and then run. I'd vote for him in a heartbeat.

    I loved is statement that basically said I don't have time for that tomfoolery.

    August 13, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. Chris from NY

    I don't mean to be rude to the brother if I say he's lying if he says he hasn't made a pick yet. He has he just hasn't said it aloud yet.

    August 13, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. Cynthia

    Colin Powell said that "the next President will need to restore America's standing in the world." This speaks volumes to me and it says Barak Obama.

    August 13, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. Nomad

    No matter where you stand in politics or personal feelings. This is a great man. Too bad he is not running

    August 13, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Nomad

    No matter where you stand in politics or personal feelings. This is a great man. Too bad he is not running he would get my vote for sure

    August 13, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Clinton/McCain

    If he endorses Obama it will be only because he's black. Pretty sad.

    August 13, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Dimslie

    We're supposed to be surprised if one more black supports Obama?

    August 13, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  12. Ron Nebraska

    Doesn't matter, Powells reputation is ruined by going along with the criminal Bush administration and helping it lie us into a war that has seriously damaged our people and our country.

    August 13, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Proud army and navy mom

    HAHA, now that is GRATITUDE for you. The dems have always called him an Uncle Tom and puppet of the administration. The Bush administration elevates him to the highest position in his career (didn't see that under Bill Clinton). Now he goes over to the dems who always hated him. Thanks a lot, Colin (or is that Colon).

    August 13, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Given that General Powell has always maintained an apolitical position and has devoted most of his life to the preservation of the USA, what would be the surprise if he does endorse Obama? While many so-called conservatives deny the documented fact that roughly half the military support the Democratic Party's agenda, I'm afraid it's true...that many of us who risked and are risking our lives in uniform of this country will support Obama and the Democrats.

    August 13, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. California Gold

    Too bad. Wouldn't an Obama-Powell ticket be unbeatable! Would love to see McCain try to convince voters Powell is unpatriotic, inexperienced, dangerous and his popularity is no different than superficial girls.

    Think Obama needs to tag a military person as VP. McCain would be buried the first week.

    August 13, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. jason, Texas

    Come on board Mr. Powell!!! Back Obama!

    August 13, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Nando, Florida

    That was a Endorsement I really don't think he would endorse at WACK JOB like Nader maybe Barr but doubt it. He will Endorse Obama but it will be just a endorsement.

    August 13, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Scott, West Chester, OH

    Powell is a Democrat who claimed he was a Republican when it fit his ambitions. Of course he'll endorse a fellow African-American and fellow liberal. No surprise there.

    August 13, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. Lesley

    If he's leaning toward a Dem or an Independent, then it's pretty certain that McCain is not going to get his endorsement. When Powell refers to vision reaching out to the rest of the world and restoring favorable ratings to America, it's a black eye for the McCain campaign. He's practically saying that McCain's not a visionary and cannot lead the country forward in the 21st century, that McCain represents old, failed politics. That should influence some independent voters in a positive way toward Obama (or an independent), despite McCain's negative comments advertising to the contrary.

    August 13, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Linda

    With all due respect to his military career I blame Powell for 'selling' the war for Bush/Cheney. It was Powell at the UN with the 'mobile chemical unit pictures'. Just like Obama's...his judgement can be seriously questioned.

    August 13, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  21. Philip


    In my eyes it would show a great deal of strenght and courage to help return America to it's potential for greatest. For America's sake, please do the right thing!

    August 13, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. Michael

    I hope he endorse and vote for Barack Obama to restore his good
    name .

    August 13, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. Rich

    Hopefully he won't endorse anyone he should be tried for war crimes
    just like the rest of the Bush administration should for the lies on the Iraq war. Has everyone forgot that theatre show we seen on the run up to the war. It would be more appropriate for CNN to be reporting why are these people not being brought to justice instead of who they are endorsing.

    August 13, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Jason

    General Powell. Run for President yourself.. Your what the country needs!!

    August 13, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. Tjaye in LA

    I think he has, but he knows people will accuse him of supporting Obama because he is Black. Even though no one accuses anyone who is white of supporting McCain because he is white.

    August 13, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
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