September 15th, 2008
08:11 PM ET
14 years ago

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Janet, American Abroad

    Mr. Powell, saw first hand how the Bush/Cheney ran this country into a DEPRESSION!

    Lets all be hope he will release the Truth to the American Citizens!

    All of us and the world have a right to let the Smoke and Mirror Tactics be removed!

    September 15, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. S

    I am sure he won't find a reason anytime soon!

    September 15, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. No Country For Old Men

    General Colin Powell please stay away from John McCain.
    McCain said today that, the economy is fundamentally strong.
    The economy is fundamentally strong…."
    He then called Obama and the Media and stated,
    The unemployment surge is working!
    The unemployment surge is working!
    This is Republicans Change that we don’t need!

    Obama & Biden ‘08
    Hillary & Warner ‘16
    McCain 88, Hitting & Holding ‘24

    September 15, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. BKoi

    In my opinion , The only way Colin Powell Won't endorse Obama is if MCCains MANIACs threaten his life, if he does! Either that ,or they'll threaten to have him coach Sarah Palin in foreign policy, with heavy emphasis on The BUSH DOCTRINE !!

    September 15, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. Barbara CA

    Colin Powel, you are very right that it would be electrifying for Barack Obama to become President. And I believe he would ask you to be in his Cabinet. The Democrats would treat you with the respect and honor you deserve, unlike the republicans (who threw you under the bus).

    September 15, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. Republican for Obama

    I know in Powell's heart he knows Obama is the best choice to get our country out of this colossal mess – with the war and with the economy. I know that in my heart.

    September 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. mark

    Your polls are underestimating the black vote and the hispanic vote which is enough to put obama on top in November. I just don't understand how you've interviewed one thousand people out of three hundred million and say McCain is ahead in popular vote. This is nothing but tricks to sway voters and play on their mind.

    September 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Johanna not voting GOP

    How can a great man and a great mind be undecided. I'm not buying it anymore. Come on Powell, get on the Obama train!!!

    September 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Philip

    Powell needs to understand what a leader does (i.e., lead). It isn't waiting until the race is won and then jump in, to pick the winner! Come on General, Lead!

    September 15, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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