[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/15/art.powell.gi.jpg 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."