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. Ted van Tol

    Mr. Powels "show"at the UN is a big shadow hanging above his
    great leadership. He was mislead by his own intellegence and
    used by the Bush administration.
    He can make it up now by support and vote for the man who always opposed the war in Iraq.
    If he votes for McCain and McCain would be elected for president, he will be a part of the dark clouds hanging above America for the next 4 years. And who wants to be a part of that?
    It wil be a hell of a job for Barack Obama leading you country out of
    the wars and out of the economic mess your in.
    But like his smile, the sun wil break that dark clouds open and he
    realy gives hope for a better future for not only America but for this
    whole planet.

    There is no choice here! Barack Obama for President!

    September 16, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  2. J

    I know Colin Powell personally. I have always been of the opinion that he is and always will be a liberal who realizes the value of appearing conservative (due to his military career) and is hesitant to come out and admit his true leanings. He knows that if he does, he will likely lose his image as being "above the fray" and will likely be relegated to a similar status as other Generals who picked a side in the political debate (think Wesley Clark). These Generals often lose most of their clout with their former peers and at least 1/2 of the public. At the last second, however, you can expect he will declare his true political leanings (VERY liberal).

    September 16, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  3. BJGT

    The only reason Colin Powell or any BushCo member is supporting McCain with MONEY is to keep their own hides out of prison.

    Gen Powell knows he will be called to testify in the forged evidence run-up to Iraq War

    He should have resigned in protest when asked to tell bald faced lies to the United Nations. Spare us your "judgment," Mr. Powell.

    September 16, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. Penny

    When good men keep silent then evil will this case the country will sink deeper into....

    September 16, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  5. Liliana, FL


    September 16, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  6. Terry

    I really hope Powell doesn't vote for Obama simply because he is African American like so many other African Americans have done. If someone is white and votes for a white person over an African American because they are too are white it's called being racsist... Same logic would apply here no matter what way someone tries to spin it. Racsism and reverse racism.

    September 16, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  7. Ian

    I bet he writes in Ron Paul.

    September 16, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  8. Xango 08 & 12

    I wish he would just speak out now, we need to hear everyone in this country speak up so that we dont get stuck with more mcbushes for another 8 years, we can not afford m ore wars..more financial crisis

    look at how mcbush says that he will not expand government, but look at who is bailing lehman and all the private sector now???

    YES my friends with our taxes we are bailing the rich............ yes m y friends the govenrment is bailing the private sector

    see Obama is right,
    but i think we should not bail them out..let them fall big time and let them see that without government regulation they are but dust...

    so much for mcpalin's theories..

    they are a failure both of them and so is mcbush

    what a joke

    September 16, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  9. Ian

    Maybe he realizes that neither candidate will be good for the country.

    September 16, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  10. Mike from CA

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the average voter, look at the last eight years, read the idiotic, racist, stupid, misinformed comments by the posters on these very blogs.

    Powell is sitting on the fence too long,doesn't speak well of him.

    September 16, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  11. Ndalio

    Stand for change.....quit company with liars

    Obama/ Biden

    September 16, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  12. Central Scruitinizer

    The repubs claim Sarah P is an expert on energy becuz Alaska produces a lot of oil. Tell us Sarah how should we solve the energy problems in America??? The Repubs say she has foriegn policy experience becuz Alaska is next to Russia. Tell us Sarah, how do we deal with Mr Putin?? The Repubs claim she is a real reformer becuz she fired a chef(NOT) and sold a jet on Ebay(NOT). Tell us Sarah are you willing to fire all the lobbyists in you own camp?? Im sorry icant hear you Sarah...... Oh my bad shes not saying anything. And Im supposed to vote for her and JONNY based on what????? That she promises to shake things up.

    September 16, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. Alisa--GA

    To mobiusinformer:

    It is quite interesting how he is no biracial when any other day he is consider african american.

    Biracial or not there will still be an african american in the white house.

    September 16, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  14. joey from nc

    Powell should be for Obama seeing as John Mccain missed the whole civil rights movement due to him being a POW.

    September 16, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  15. gail

    Please pick Obama. McCain wants to let the rich and the big corporations keep their tax dollars. He thinks by doing that it will trickle down to the rest of us because they (the rich) will create and keep jobs available for all of us. BULL! What do you think brought on all of our troubles. The CEO' s greed.

    September 16, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  16. Sharon from Dumfries Virginia

    Mark, I bet you are not voting for Obama because he is black, Right?????? What will McSane offer you other than 4 more years of the SAME

    September 16, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  17. Maddie, Hartford, Ct.

    Translated...even though he's a Republican, who served under Bush, he can't support the McCain campaign and the possibility of four more years of lies and fabrications.

    September 16, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  18. Praetorian

    Are we ready to be electrified?
    After the excitement of an Obama election what will he and Biden do differently in the first year, two?
    What will McCain do?
    Who will be their likely appointments? If McCain takes the same route as Bush–it will be filled with lobbyists and old school insiders.

    If Obama is elected–his appointments could include extreme left wing power figures or old-school Democrats who will bring us more log-jams and little new ideas.

    We need to peel back the onion on both of these guys before I vote. This could be the first election I sit out.

    September 16, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  19. Kimberly

    It is interesting that he has not made a decision which really means that he will back Barack Obama. Otherwise he would be singing the praises of John "Old" McCain. As a white woman who will absolutely vote for Obama I am amazed that Colin Powell even has to take more time to decide. He knows that John McCain is wrong for America but he is afraid of the backlash from these Republicans who will stop at nothing to destroy your reputation and make you life hell if you go against their principles. He should as a Black Man support Obama what would he tell his grandchildren that he didn't support the first potential black president. Black Republicans wake up you are not welcome in the RNC just look back at the convention...Were you represented? Obama is about inclusion not division. We need a president who is for ALL the people not just the rich, old, white, confused few who call themselves Christians. Christians don't tell lies.

    September 16, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  20. Ndalio

    Every News is only about McCAin / Palin.... im tired of these two. Can we read something about Biden too!!!

    CNN stop these partialities please.... Not every one wanna know when Palin takes showers!

    September 16, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  21. Thomas

    I think that Colin Powell could run on either ticket for President in the future. It is too bad that an Independent could never be elected through the Electoral College for Mr. Powell would make a great independent canidate that could break both party's hold on the elections.

    September 16, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  22. Lisa M

    This is one of the few people from the Bush Administration that I have respect for and the following statement has a lot to do with it.

    “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.”

    September 16, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  23. Joe the Troll

    Hey, Mark –

    If that's how black people vote, why didn't they vote for Sharpton? Or Jackson, Moseley-Braun, or Keyes?

    Better question – why am I trying to give well-known, obvious facts to an obvious racist with no need for them?

    September 16, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  24. Gary

    I'm going to bet the color of Obama's skin wins over Powell's vote...

    September 16, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |

    Powell's for Obama...............

    September 16, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
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