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. Tired

    Mark, why is it that you and people with your mindset continue to say that black people are voting for Obama because he is black. First of all he is BIRACIAL (half black and half white). Second, how come black people did not vote the same way for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton? Maybe this time they see a person who can ACTUALLY make a difference.

    Why don't you guys get off this black/white thing and look at the issues. The state of our country is in need of help. If people would sit down and listen to BOTH candidates you will be able to see a clear distinction. We hear sound bites and think that's it. What about the whole context of a comment? What about looking past someone's skin color and looking at there character based on their own actions? No I guess that just seems too much like right.

    God help us......

    September 16, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. kamenwati

    Powell's despicable performance in front of the U.N. with his phony illustrations of mobile bio-weapons labs in Saddam Hussein's mythical WMD arsenal has forever tainted him in the eyes of the world. Who cares who he endorses. His endorsement of a fradulent war that has led to the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions from their homes and country is what really matters. America needs a war crimes tribunal.

    September 16, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  3. Amber

    I would have rather had first black President Powell than Obama any day. At least Powell is qualified and not a pompous jerk.

    September 16, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. S Callahan

    One thing I know, If Mr. Powell ran in this race he would have had my vote. I admire the fact he refuses to be caught up in the frenzy of who he is voting for, as that really is a personal issue.

    September 16, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Keisha - Atlanta

    I like Colin Powell. It seems to me that he might vote for Obama. It's apparant that he's thinking about the welfare of the American people and the choosing a candidate that can bring about true change. i don't think that person is John McCain.

    September 16, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. Bernard

    The republican party keep telling us that Palin is ready to become vice president. The republican party is protecting Palin from the media. They are not allowing Palin to be confronted with tough questions. I have one question....How can Palin be ready to lead our country and face foriegn leaders when she is not ready to face the media?

    September 16, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. Nick

    Powell should have been the first African American president of the United States. He would have had my vote in a heart beat. Right now I am undecided. I like the Right's moral convictions, but the Left's view of economy. I wish there was a middle party. Heck, I might even vote for Ron Paul if I still can't come to a decision.

    September 16, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  8. Mary

    It could go either way with Powell as he is the one who went in front of the country saying we had to go to war because of all the evidence.....he is not above suspect........always had respect for him and said he should have run for president.....obama is no Powell...he is a disrespectful, hateful, sexist, bigoted, racist pig....without lipstick

    September 16, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. Peggy

    It seems to me that George Bush has always had the safety of our country as a top priority. He's had to make tough decisions on security and put up with bleeding hearts too. What if we were not in Iraq and Afghanistan? Wouldn't the terrorists have killed and destroyed more over here in the USA? Have so many of us already forgotten?????
    Why have so many turned against our president?
    As for our economy, it's insane to believe that our president has so much control of that. Why not put the blame where it belongs. Greedy banks, greedy investors, Congress, the Senate, House of representatives, all of us. We all want our cake and eat it too. We have been living way beyond our means for at least two generations and now we are all paying for it. Get real.......stop using our president as a scapegoat for all our problems..................

    September 16, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. AC

    I was an admirer of Gen. Powell but lost all respect for him when he stood in front of the UN and lied to get the US and others into an illegal war. I couldn't care less now who he supports.

    September 16, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  11. observer.

    technically, Obama is, in fact, an African-American. He has African descent, whether its 100% or not, mixed with regular ol' American descent.

    September 16, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. joe

    oprah,powell,condi rice- all are for the brother.and they call others racist.

    September 16, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. mike blast McCain for not being able to use a computer because of his war injuries is just...low. He can't tie his own shoe because of them, so how do you expect the man to type? Hey lets make fun of people who fought for our freedom and came back with war injuries, that'll make us look "smart" and "intelligent" and people will listen to us and who we tell them to vote for. Less bashing more issues, and as far as the economy goes, its been run the same for decades, so was it "poor" when Clinton was president, was it "poor" last quarter when it was the highest its ever been? The thing about economies are they go up...and wait for it... they go down too! What a concept. The president doesn't tell businnesses how to do business, thats the whole point of capitalism and not communism. if you want our government to take total control of the economy join the socialist party (we have one).

    September 16, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. Poor Comsumer S.C.

    Republicans think Americans are dumb as dirt.

    Well maybe some are ask all democrats that supported Hillary voting for McCain. They can't get over the fact that she lost and would vote someone in office that admitted he knows nothing about the economy. The economy is the number "1" issue not the war. You can't change their opinion because the republicans are right.
    We are as dumb as dirt.

    September 16, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  15. Illini

    Yeah right, you and Donna Brazille - "Gee, I don't know who I'm going to vote for."

    With all due respect Sir, Americans aren't stupid and can see right through this.

    September 16, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  16. Tony



    September 16, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Don't forget that Powell jumped off the Bush bandwagon in 2004 because of the Iraq War.

    September 16, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Phil in KC

    This is a former general and former Secretary of State. He should have as good a read on international situations and who is best to address them as anyone. The fact that he has not already backed McCain, his party's nominee, speaks volumes.

    September 16, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    Man you Obama staffers are showing your true colors again. McCain never said the economy was strong, he said the foundation was strong and it is. How about you guys get your quotes right. Then again it's like said regarding Obama "He stuck to the facts, except when he stretched them."

    September 16, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. John

    I love the way everyone knows more about Ret Gen Colin Powell's decision making process than he does. Do not put words in his mouth. The one thing this country loves to do is twist people's words and make it appear that they said something they didn't. I would vote for him which is something I cannot say about McCain or Obama.

    September 16, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. JDOD

    Powell, please back Obama/Biden.

    September 16, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. See through the muck

    Thank you General Powell, as always, well said!

    September 16, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. rich

    Powel needs to either do his thing or get off the potty.

    September 16, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  24. Alexis

    Same old Powell, spineless, oppportunistic murderer. Goes along with bush and knowingly lies to the UN, advocates and approves torture, can't back a candidate – he should be brought up on war crimes trials with his murderous white house friends.

    September 16, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. John

    Sorry, Mr. Powell.

    America doesn't need 'electrifying'.

    It needs a President.

    That President will be John McCain.

    Barry can go back to the South Side and be electrifying there.

    September 16, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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