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. BJGT

    If Powell wants to reclaim his stature and redeem himself, he needs to testify against Bush and Cheney for lying to all of us about the war in Iraq.

    August 13, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  2. pat C.

    i also think C. Rice is supporting obama. you know she is sick of G.Bush and his ignorance. can't wait to see after the election how she voted.

    August 13, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. MD

    Colin Powell would have been an excellent choice for a VP for Obama. However, being black himself, Obama is entirely forced to pick a white person . It is sad that race has be a major issue in this matter, but reality is that America is still stuggling with its identity.

    I am sure if Obama becomes president, he will appoint Powell to a major cabinet post.

    August 13, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  4. New Jersey for Obama

    All the intellectual people who arent in the pocket of special interest groups and Americans who truely judge this election without bias, will vote OBAMA 08! Its a no brainer.

    Mccain lost my vote when he chose to take the low road in this campaign after swearing he would run a respectful campaign.

    Besides that, the poor old fella cant possibly be running for president for any reason other than that he wants to make certain america occupies Iraq in order to maintain secure access to McBush's big oil pipeline. No sir. We're onto you!

    So have a coke and smile and fix your rotted teeth..

    August 13, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  5. Another grumpy old white woman for Obama

    I can understand Condi hiding her preference. Not Powell. He knows enough . More than most of us. That's why he left the Bush Administration isn't it? Come on Colin. Commit.

    August 13, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. Kristen

    There is no reason to believe Sec. Rice is backing Obama. Her foreign policy positions are completely inconsistent with his. I can't imagine her ever recommending that the President give tyrants a one-on-one audience with no preconditions as Obama has suggested he would do. As for Gen (& Sec) Powell, he'll make his decision based upon what he believes to be right. As for "getting out of the way," remember that the press is bugging him about the issue–he's not out there trying to tell the rest of us how to vote. After all, he's not a politician...or a self-indulgent celebrity. Lately it's getting harder to tell those two types apart!

    August 13, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. jo

    Sir, go ahead and endoress Obama, Mccain won't endorse mccain.

    August 13, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  8. marianna

    Really? Are some Reps crossing party lines in support Obama? Powel, some say that also Rice? Always thought, and heard, that race has nothing to do with core values. Particularly, the values of people who are not black, but just HAPPENED to be black.

    August 13, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Harry Deshommes

    Greetings sir, with a political kid running for office and a republican who may be link to president's alleged initiator of the Iran atrocities with CIA's help I am considering choosing independent this coming election year and by the way, I wish you were running for presidential office, are you not in good health or unqualified any longer? I saw the independ running for the presidential officeon CNN during the the earlier debates, Clinton & Obama's, but I can't remember his name, I would go for broke they though I know nothing of him, Oh yes, I forgot to mention I'm a democrat, so it's a sad moment for me to wrench like thus, on and back..

    August 13, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. Jeronimo!

    " {Powell} looking for a reason to vote for him. He hasn't found it yet."

    Wow.... That just about sums it up for McCain.... UNIMPRESSIVE!!

    (even after 30 yrs)

    August 13, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  11. Powell's Power

    Don't under estimate powell's Power. As equal is Condi.

    August 13, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. mel

    Colin,give your endorsement to Obama and use your knowledges
    in National security to advise him.

    August 13, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  13. Mad

    Again- doesn't care about the issues...

    August 13, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Powell's Power

    Don't under estimate Powell's power.

    August 13, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. linda from South Dakota

    i highly respect powell.. hes always been striaght and honest,,,, powell will make the right decision,,,,,, he would make a awesome president too,, i agree>come together,,,, hes awesome,,,, wish he would run,,, obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!08 and beyond

    August 13, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. Frank

    Black for black! What an amazing surprise: NOT!!!!! We all can still recall the lies he stated about WMD in Iraq in a well-publicized meeting of the Security Council! Poor judgement then, poor judgement now!!!!!

    August 13, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. anna day


    August 13, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. Worst...Resume...Ever....

    He's endorsing Obama. Shocker.

    August 13, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  19. Jeffrey G. Brown

    Sorry Colin... you lost all your credibility years ago. We don't care who you endorse!

    August 13, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. nate

    Why do you think neither Rice nor Powell has endorsed McCain? And dont you dare "play the race card from the bottom of the deck"

    August 13, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. steve dumford, Scotts valley ca.

    What a great boost for Obama, An endorsement from the man who did most of Bushies lying for him at the UN and to other countries. Use to have respect for the man, but he sold his soul down the river and traded any integrity he had by helping Bushie get us into the Iraq War.

    August 13, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  22. the ends will never justify the means

    With the courage of an American Soldier...

    Step forward Mr. Powell.....

    Tell the truth....tell the American people the matter the consequence

    Restore your integrity, reclaim your us and to the world.

    Good luck, Sir.

    "The Truth Shall Set You Free".......Still.

    August 13, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  23. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Who cares who he picks! He lied to Congress, the UN and the American people about WMDs in Iraq. He and Condoleeza Rice are traitors and war criminals deserving of trial, NOT being asked which candidate they support!!! His "credibility" was essential to Bush's obession with lying America into launching this war of he can live with himself boggles the mind.

    August 13, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. jm from sc

    Tjaye in LA
    That is an awesome point. I totally agree with you on that. People seem to dismiss the fact that Sen. Obama is a very smart intelligent man and only look at his color.

    McCain is the worse nominee the RNC has ever had except for Bush, therefore it is clear why many are backing him this time. When he was younger, they didn't want him so what makes them think he has improved since eight years ago? In my opinion, the only thing happened is he got too old for the job.

    Mr. Powell would have to support Obama because he knows how corrupt the current administration is first hand. After all, he refused the position after Bush was given the white house the second time around.

    *People would be treating Colin Powell the same as they are treating Obama if he ran for president.

    Obama 08!!!!

    August 13, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  25. Bill, Dallas

    If Colin Powell had run in 2000...imagine what a different place the world would be today. He would have crushed Gore and on 9/11 we would have had a real military commander as POTUS and CIC. Al Qaeda wouldn't have lasted 5 years.

    August 13, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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