Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin, Politico.com, Oct. 20, 2008
Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, one of the country’s most respected Republicans, stunned both parties Sunday by strongly endorsing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and laying out a blistering, detailed critique of the modern GOP.
Powell said the election of Obama would “electrify the world.”
“I think he is a transformational figure,” Powell said. “He is a new generation coming . . . onto the world stage and on the American stage. And for that reason, I’ll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama.”
As a key reason, Powell said: “I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a McCain administration.”
Powell, once considered likely to be the nation’s first African-American presidential nominee, said his decision was not about race.
Moderator Tom Brokaw said: “There will be some . . . who will say this is an African-American, distinguished American supporting another African-American because of race.”
Powell, who last year gave Republican John McCain’s campaign the maximum $2,300, replied: “If I had only had that in mind, I could have done this six, eight, 10 months ago. I really have been going back and forth between somebody I have the highest respect and regard for, John McCain, and somebody I was getting to know, Barack Obama. And it was only in the last couple of months that I settled on this.”
“I can’t deny that it will be a historic event when an African-American becomes president,” Powell continued, speaking live in the studio. “And should that happen, all Americans should be proud — not just African-American, but all Americans — that we have reached this point in our national history where such a thing could happen. It would also not only electrify the country, but electrify the world.”
Rush Limbaugh suggested Powell’s move was very much related to Obama’s status as the first African-American with a chance to become president.
“Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race,” Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail. “OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I’ll let you know what I come up with.
“I was also unaware of his dislike for John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. I guess he also regrets Reagan and Bush making him a four-star and secretary of state and appointing his son to head the FCC. Yes, let’s hear it for transformational figures.”