Colin Powell Endorses Obama


Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, one of America’s most distinguished Republicans, has decided to support Sen. Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. He announced his bomb-shell of a decision on the Sunday edition of NBC’s ”Meet the Press.”

Powell said of Obama, ”He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure.”

Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and national security advisor under Ronald Reagan, said that Obama displayed ”steadiness, the intellectual curiosity and he selected a vice president who is ready to be president on Day One.”

Powell still identified himself as a Republican and said he will remain one. But he said he has become concerned about the tone of the campaign of Sen. John McCain, whom he has known for 25 years.

”It seemed to me that his (McCain) campaign’s focus has become more narrow and narrower,” he told “Meet the Press” moderator Tom Brokaw. ”I see Obama as being more inclusive. It bothers me that the central part of John’s campaign has become Bill Ayers (the former 60s radical).

”These robo calls that people are getting, saying that Obama is connected to Ayers, which is saying that Obama supports terrorists. It goes too far.” Powell also said he did not approve of McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, saying that she is not ready to be president. He also frowned on McCain’s actions during the early part of the financial crisis.

Powell said that the next president would likely make two selections to the U.S. Supreme Court and he would not want McCain making that decision because the choices would be conservatives. Powell also bemoaned members of his party who tell people that Obama is a Muslim, ”and they know it is not true.”

”It would seem that there are some people in the party that think that there is something wrong with being a Muslim,” he said. ”He (Obama) is not a Muslim; he is a Christian, but what if he was a Muslim? There are some in my party who are saying that being a Muslim is being a terrorist, and they should stop polarizing this way.”

Powell said that Obama is ready to move into the Oval Office in January.

”The president we need now has to have the ability to inspire us,” he said. ”Obama is inclusive, he is reaching out to America, he has great oratorical skills — and that is important, and he is a transformational figure and that is why I am voting for Obama.”

Powell said he does not plan to campaign for Obama ”because we have a little bit more than two

Senator Barack Obama
Senator Barack Obama
weeks to go in the campaign.”

On Obama’s perceived weakness on national security issues, Powell said that the Illinois senator is more than capable. ”Obama has educated himself on these issues and will bring an intellectual vigor and steady hand,” he said.

When asked about whether he picked Obama because he was Black, he dismissed the perception. ”If that was the case, I would have done that six to eight or ten months ago,” he said. ”However, I cannot deny the historical events that are taking place in America. We will see if we have reached this point [of electing a Black president].”

Powell said that he hoped America has gotten over the consequences of the so-called ”Bradley Effect.” This occurs when Whites who are being polled say they will vote for a Black person and then vote for the White candidate, as was the case in the 1982 gubernatorial race in California when Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley narrowly lost his race to Republican George Deukmejian when he was up by eight points in the polls 48 hours before the election.

”I believe a lot of people who say that they will not vote for Obama will use other reasons, and not say it is race,” he said. ”I think Americans have advanced significantly since the days of Tom Bradley.”

Powell was mentioned as a presidential candidate himself in 1996. After a book tour in which he talked to thousands of people, he opted out of the race, citing his wife’s concerns about his safety and questions regarding his wife’s health.

Powell addressed the 1996 Republican convention in which he was booed when he said that he favored a woman’s right to choose and affirmative action.

It has been reported that George W. Bush approached Powell about being his running mate in 2000. Powell reportedly told Bush, ”thanks but no thanks.”

As far as a position in an Obama administration, Powell said: ”I have been in government 40 years and I am not looking forward to going back. If the president asks me to serve, I will look at it.”

Pundits and political analysts see the Powell endorsement as positive and a boost for the Obama campaign.

”This will help Obama close the case for independent voters, particularly those leaning Republican,” said Dr. Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University. ”I think, at some level, Powell wanted to support a Black man for president and here was his chance.”

Fauntroy added that Powell’s support might be considered anathema to Obama’s strong anti-war followers because Powell was a strong supporter of the Iraq War and there was evidence that he knew what he was doing when he delivered the famous ”Weapons of Mass Destruction” speech at the United Nations in 2003.

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