September 16th, 2008
06:07 AM ET
12 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."

soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. Silky Terrier K

    The only one to vote for is Obmam/Biden. McCain thinks our economy is "sound"? Palin afraid to answer questions for American voters or legal authorities.All of AMerica is laughing at Palin.McCain can't use a computer because of "injuries"? Making Palin a "sex" object for votes and money? He used his wife Cindy as a carpetbagger in Arizona.
    What is America thinking? Vote Democrat to keep America safe and sound. Your dollars,retirement and jobs will be safe and sound with Obama/Biden.Women's choice will be safe with Obama/Biden.

    September 16, 2008 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  2. strong

    Powell must have a high opinion of himself, if he thinks that we are just waiting around to hear his "pick." Who cares what he thinks. Just another politician.

    September 16, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  3. Mark LaMonte

    Secretary Powell would have been / should have been McCain's VP selection....

    September 16, 2008 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  4. mobiusinformer

    Powell's right about one thing, a rarity for this War Criminal: the election of an African American candidate WOULD, indeed, be electrifying.

    Too bad there is no such candidate. Obama is biracial.

    Wake up, sheep.

    September 16, 2008 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  5. Independent for Obama-Biden

    Finally. He breaks his silence. I have deep respect for Colin Powel and he had to tell a bunch of lies due to the pressure. We just have to wait for the debates to see who he will side with. Personally I feel that he will not talk till October about his choice in my humble opinion.

    September 16, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  6. Phoenix

    People underestimate black conservatives like myself. We are not above voting Democrat. The only thing black conservatives ever wanted was for blacks to simply be allowed to make strides just like everybody else. I would not be shocked if both Dr. Rice and Gen. Powell were both backing Obama secretly. Don't get me wrong, I use to like McCain, and I use to tell my friends that he would be my ideal president, but then he sunk to this.

    September 16, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  7. SPQR753

    I always considered Colin Powell an excellent general and a very sobering voice at the State department at a time when George "bring-it-on" Bush and his neocon "fellas", were happily paying Cowboys and Indians, which as we still see (read: a failed AFGANISTAN) would negatively impact American foreign policy for years to come.

    I was saddened when he allowed himself to be part of the Bush deception scheme when he made the (in)famous presentation of WMD at the U.N.

    Contrary to many ex puppets from the failing George W. Bush first and second administrations, I see Colin Powell as a very decent and very honorable man and when it comes to his opinions I am prepared to listen and agree or disagree with what he has to say on a variety of subjects.

    September 16, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  8. Ananth

    Choosing a Leader- Does it have to on Issues alone or based on how they handle the everchanging challenges that crop up? Though Leaders are not born as such, they are necessarily groomed to be Leaders by some Selfish "King makers" Better of the Worst is the best choice for U S of A

    September 16, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  9. Martha

    Wow, that speaks volume of someone under the Bush admin. This is a man that has very high credentials and respect in the U.S. and will not even support McShame. Wake up America. We need change. McShame is pushing rhetoric that he will change Wall Street, what in the world has he been doing for the past decade. Now it is only convenient to talk about the economy, he will say anything to win.

    September 16, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  10. Patriot

    I wish Powell had run for President!!!!!

    September 16, 2008 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  11. Denise

    'Com on know you are sick and tired of the deception played by your crew...Stand for Change (for a change)

    September 16, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  12. WhoIsPalin?

    It's obvious that Powell is supporting OBAMA, no clear thinking Republican would put up with the Dishonest and Sleazy Campaign McCain Camp is running!! Trust me as a former Republican now turned independent can't wait to vote for OBAMA/BIDEN on Nov 4th.

    September 16, 2008 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  13. WhoIsPalin?

    It's obvious that Powell is supporting OBAMA, no clear thinking Republican would put up with the Dishonest and Sleazy Campaign McCain Camp is running!! Trust me as a former Republican now turned independent can't wait to vote for OBAMA/BIDEN on Nov 4th!

    September 16, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  14. Jill

    who cares what you think.

    September 16, 2008 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  15. cosma

    Mr Powell knows the way to go....Obama 08

    September 16, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  16. Barbara CA

    Colin Powell, 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 through you under the bus).

    September 16, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  17. Nando

    He's no fool he Knows Mccain will be the end of this REPUBLIC !

    September 16, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  18. Synithia

    Democrats ,love Mr.Colin Powell ,republican or not we have the upmost respect for him I think it would be great if he was in the Obama administration .

    September 16, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  19. sm






    September 16, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  20. Aaron

    Come on...we all know who Colin Powell is going to vote for. However, Props to him for trying to show the rest of us how the election process and bipartisanship work. Too many folks already picked sides and are falling for the media hype and "celebrity" of both candidates when we haven't even seen real debates yet. The VP debates are going to be fun.

    September 16, 2008 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  21. Jim Smith

    I respect Colin Powell, but I think the real reason he can't or won't give his opinion is because he hopes to get a cabinet position from one of the candidates. He's afraid to endorse either one, because if the one he doesn't endorse wins – well there goes his cabinet post.

    September 16, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. Carol

    I don't know what he is waiting for, although in my eyes he would have had more credilbilty if he had stood up to GWB on the war instead of going out there and going along with it.
    How could he sit in front of those people and defend something, which he knew in his heart was based on lies!!!!!
    So to me I don't really care which side he backs, he lost my respect a long time ago.

    September 16, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  23. Trish

    Colin Powell's support won't bring anything to either party. But when he left the Bush Administration I knew he felt Bush, Cheney and their cronies weren't worty of his respect or partnership. And that meant they must have taken a very low road.

    September 16, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  24. Blue eyes

    what is the world take on the two candidates? the world known America to be the world peace head, yes. the world vote say that Obama leads with 85% to John mc cain 13%. BBCUser Poll Results
    The US Election 2008 Web Monitor aims to analyze both the production and consumption of electronic resources. Therefore, the system not only aggregates and visualizes online coverage, but also lets each individual user vote for a particular candidate. This page summarizes the results received up until now. While the pie chart shows total figures, the bar charts below categorize those figures by age, gender, and country of residence.

    Overall voting results in percent
    Age Gender Country Month


    ECOresearch: US Election 2008 Web Monitor |
    you can not spend your money on war and have good jobs. good health care create a peaceful states for all, i mean no way. this account shows that the world needs Obama and you and me needs Him.

    September 16, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  25. Mark

    Go ahead Powell. You are black and you are going to vote for Nobama.
    This is about race and you are no different from the other 99% of blacks that are voting for Nobama just because of race. Its evident that Nobama should not be our President but black people don't care about experience or leadership. Nobama is going to lose because people are voting for him for the wrong reason. The truth always comes out.

    September 16, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
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