Chicago, IL – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell crossed party lines this morning to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, the most prominent GOP defection yet of the 2008 campaign. [VIN news reported this endorsement as speculation in August]
Obama has courted Republicans all along, but in Powell he gets party crossover plus military credibility. Powell is a retired U.S. Army general and served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush.
As Secretary of State under the current President Bush, Powell helped to build the case for the Iraq war, a role that hurt him with many Democrats and moderates, who had viewed him as somewhat apolitical. Powell made his endorsement today on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
Powell said he had watched both Obama and Sen. John McCain in the last “six or seven weeks,” since the national political conventions, and paid special attention to how they reacted to the nation’s worsening economic situation.
“I must say, he seemed a little unsure about how to approach the problem,” Powell said of McCain.
“He didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems we have.”
Powell also expressed concerns about McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. “I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of vice president,” Powell said, adding that it raised “some questions in my mind” about McCain’s judgment.
As for Obama, Powell said, “I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us
Powell said he would not campaign for Obama, noting the short amount of time that remains until Election Day. He later said he is “in no way interested in a return to government,” but said he would consider any offers made by the next president.
He said that if his endorsement of Obama were focused solely on the historic nature of his candidacy, “I could have done this six, ten, eight months ago.”
Powell appeared uncomfortable throughout the interview and cleared his throat several times while talking to Brokaw. He made a clear effort towards the end of the interview to make it clear his endorsement was “not out of any lack of respect or admiration of John McCain.”
He said: “I strongly believe that at this point in America’s history, we need a president that will not just continue basically the policies we have been following in recent years. I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change.”