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Colin Powell: Will he or won't he publicly back Barack Obama?

The Ticket was taken aback when Bill Kristol, citing "people who talk directly to" Barack Obama's campaign, created a flurry of excitement today by saying on Fox News Channel that Colin Powell not only was set to endorse the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but "may well give a speech" at the party's approaching convention. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol

Kristol is an articulate, effective polemicist for the conservative causes he believes in and a top-notch editor of the Weekly Standard. But well-sourced among "people" with direct links to Obama?

We were skeptical. And shortly after Kristol's report, Powell scotched at least part of it.

Contacted by ABC News, Powell said: "I do not have time to waste on Bill Kristol's musings. I am not going to the convention. I have made this clear."

Kristol still may be on to something though; the ABC story intriguingly continued: "Powell ended the conversation without entertaining any follow-up questions as to whether he would be crossing party Rumors persist that former Secretary of State Colin Powell will endorse Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obamalines to endorse Obama."

Powell is a past master at keeping the political world guessing -- most dramatically in the early stages of the 1996 Republican presidential race, when speculation persisted that he might dive into the contest. And, as The Ticket has noted here, here, and here, he's effectively played a somewhat similar game this year, letting dangle the prospect of an embrace of Obama.

He never took the plunge in '96. And whether he becomes a public presence in this campaign -- or remains on the sidelines -- will be one of the fascinating subplots to watch through election day.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credits: Alicia Wagner/Los Angeles Times (Kristol); Associated Press (Powell) 

Comments () | Archives (45)

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Does he still feel allegiance to the people that made a liar and fool out of him?

He's going to be the VP nominee.

Next thing we are likely to hear from Obama campaign is that McCain is switching parties and he will be giving the 'defense' speech at the Democratic convention.

Not only will Colin Powell endorce Barack Obama he will be the VP candidate, if not Powell it will be Hagel.

it doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that Kristol is always wrong, but always effective at achieving his goal -- in this case, by getting Powell to deny convention and/or endorsement, it creates a negative space for Obama (aka a vacuum) into which anything can get sucked; it detracts from Obama's upcoming VP announcement by creating what the tech biz would call Fear Uncertainty and Doubt.

Why anyone listens to anything Kristol has to say is one of the great mysteries of modern times.

Wow. Assuming that Colin Powell would support Obama smacks completely of racism.

When will the Republicans start talking about their candidate? Not much to talk about eh?

General Colin Powell should not support Obama! Why should he? He is a republican. If he does, it is simply due to skin color. That will reflect badly on him. Skin deep!

Do we really need an endorsement from this liar and fallen "angel"????

Do we really need an endorsement from this liar and fallen "angel"????

Why should it matter who endorses who? I suppose if you put more faith into the thinking of someone else than you do your own thinking it would matter. I mean who knows what Colin Powell thinks? Has it gotten to the point where our population has forgotten how to think? Now they simply rely on the endorsement of someone they idolize to determine who they vote for, with out knowing how they think. Maybe that is why we have the problems we have in this nation.

Bill Kristol, neoconservative warmonger, makes yet another failed prediction.

If there is a God, this notorious "little demonic dwarf" will surely rot in Hades for the human suffering he has enabled.

I haven't voted in 36 years. In 1996, I wanted to vote for Powell, and would have registered had he entered the race.

Now, after the UN WMD speech, his credibility is less than zero in my book.

I no longer have any respect for him. Reputations are like that. They're no better than your most recent public deed, and his was a doozy, a total sell-out.

In fact, I'm not even sure why I'm wasting my time and yours to comment. Republicans, Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives are all the same.


I CANNOT imagine the General endorsing anyone, but I'm CONFIDENT he'll vote for Obama.

Colin Powell is too much of a military persona too be appreciative of Obananation I hope. I have read howevr that he has leanings toward the Democrats lately. It has been my hope he would be chosen by McCain, and with military background and age they are more compatable.
Surely he sees through this talking head.
Don Jones

Who cares if Colin Powell endorses Obama? He's a disgraced liar who didn't have the guts to do what he knew was right in the months before the war. Powell's endorsement would be barely more desireable than Rumsfeld's. Neither Obama or McCain should want it.

Rove/Schmit Ads

I think Rove/Schmit are trying to take the celebrities out of the election cycle by silencing them. Making them afraid to publicly show support for Obama.

Or could Rove/Schmidt as Carl Jung would put it have deep down hidden desires for Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. When Rove/Schmidt think of celebrities thats who they think of!

When Democrats thinks of Celebrities with millions of fans we think of cool celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Robert De Niro and yes Scarlett Johansson.

General Colin Powell is a celebrity too and you know they will go after him too if he endorses Obama.

Cool Celebrities are what make America great.

Powell should stay on the sidelines (which I think he will do) and stay out of politics, preserving his reputation as one of our most distinguished leaders..

First, read the historical accounts. What Colin Powell described in his UN speech were the lies Tenet and Cheney fed him. Powell's original speech was changed by Cheney's office before the UN address. When Powell asked Tenet point blank, if all the changes were true? Tenet told him the data in his UN speech was all "rock solid". For this Powell is treated like a liar and Tenet is given the Medal of Freedom. Go figure.

Second, Obama and Powell have more in common than just skin color. Both have much higher principles, values and standards than most of those in Washington currently. That is often a far better indicator of similar minds thinking alike.

Finally, for all the dialog about Powell you should talk with career diplomats about how they view Powell's leadership when he was Secretary of State. Most career dipolmats will tell you Powell was "great, one of the best secretary of state ever."

Powell can make up his own mind about who he supports or does not support. I wouldn't call it racism or poor judgement if he supported Obama. I would call that fate.

How could C. Powell endorse Obama after hearing Obama's speech about what he would do to our military? Obama would practically make our nation defenseless against the Islamic terrorists, and all the nations who want to see us destroyed. If Powell such an idiot? Hope not.

> Next thing we are likely to hear from Obama campaign is that McCain is switching parties and he will be giving the 'defense' speech at the Democratic convention.

If you had read the article before commenting, you'd know that this was reported by Fox News by Bill Kristol, a 'polemicist for the conservative causes he believes in'. This speculation came from Fox News, not the Obama campaign, unless you can name some sources that make this more than a rumor that Bill Kristol heard somewhere.

Personally, I doubt there's any substance to it, but I doubt most of the things Fox News says given that many of them have proven false and they usually don't bother with retractions. Like that criminal in Congress they listed as a "Democrat" even though he was a Republican--an error any decent fact-checker would have caught. But they obviously don't bother hiring any of those (or at least not any decent ones).

Don't let the facts hit you on the way out.

People, get real. Powell's UN speech was edited by Cheney's office before he gave it. Powell asked Tenet point blank if the information in it was all correct. Tenet looked him in the eye and said, "it is all rock solid". Tenet was given the Medal of Freedom and Powell was given the disgrace associated with those lies.

Powell and Obama have some things in common. Higher ideals, principles, values and standards than most in Washington. Last I checked, those typically count for a lot more than political affiliation.

Talk with some career diplomats, people who have served under multiple Secretary of States. Most will tell you Powell was one of the best they ever served under. That should also tell you something about the man.

Powell is free to support whomever he likes and vote for whomever he likes. However, I wouldn't label it racism if he supported Obama or if Obama asked for his service. I would call that "fate".

I would like to see Powell as Obama's VP, he has good experience and good judgment in a lot of areas that would benefit Obama. Clearly Powell has seen it all and been double-crossed by the Republicans. Basically I trust him . It would be very interesting to know what Powell would do in Afghanistan. I think he would finish the job, properly. He would give the Democrats a lot of credibility with the troops. Obama can make decisions but Powell would know the options, which we need while we have troops in the field. The Taliban were wrecking Afghanistan before 9-11 and will continue to do so. They are the extreme of the extremist cults run by a group of Charlie Mansons. Their latest stunt being an attack on a car full of women.

Collin Powell is a good and honorable man who has worked his way up through the ranks by hard work, good judgement, and intelligence. One of his best and worst qualities is loyalty. He was loyal to the Bush administration and they hung him out to dry. They used his credibility. I doubt General Powell will be quick to step into the political mud bath that is American politics. There are a few good men like Powell, Bob Gates, and others who care deeply about our country. It must hurt them greatly to have been associated with the politics of personal destruction practiced by the Republican party.

Colin Powell would be an excellent VP choice for either campaign.

I don't think he actually wants the job, though. I could see him being Secretary of State again. He is the George Marshall of our time: Marshall also served happily and usefully under both Democrats and Republicans.


Of course he has to endorese BHO, he's black. Every other black is voting for him because of the color of his skin.

Shallow and racist all rolled into one. Way to go Dems!

You know, it's monsoon season here in the Phoenix area, and I've been seeing a lot of news reports reminding people that rain can be hard to drive in and it's a bad idea to try to drive through a flooded underpass. I guess "Bill Kristol is wrong" qualifies as "news" in the same way those stories do -- it should be effing obvious, but apparently there are people so stupid they need constant reminding.


Kristol: Articulate? Compared to what, exactly?

The question will be when Colin Powell does declare his support:

Is he being played, or is he part of the deceit?

So sick of all these comments; bash & demonize the other side while spewing opinions as if they were facts when not one of us really knows anything about this situation. Worthless.

Powell's endorsement of Obama would be very important because of Powell's military credentials. I'm sure that he wouldn't endorse Obama because of race. There are other reasons, such as that the Bush administration has been a total disaster in virtually everything it tried to do, and McCain will only continue the trend.

"Colin Powell: Will he or won't he publicly back Barak Obama?"

Umm...No. He most certainly won't.

Colin Powell is a very intelligent man.

Bush and the Republicans made a fool of Powell. If he has half a brain, he will endorse Obama.

Frank & Kyle, how assumptive to decide the ONLY reason Powell would endorse Obama is race. Talk about jumping to conclusions. I DOUBT Powell will endorse publicly anyway. Obama is the better candidate AND other Republicans ARE endorsing him (they HAPPEN to be white so there goes your theory). Others won't endorse him publicly because they don't want to be attacked by their party, but they will still quietly vote for him. It's no secret that McCain has alienated much of his party long before this election. The ONLY reason McCain got his party's nod is because he's easy for the 'GOP power people' to manipulate. He'll just be a figurehead like Bush Jr. There were FAR better GOP candidates that never had a chance because they would set their own agenda and not follow the current course. There is VERY little enthusiasm for McCain. Much of the Republican party feels they've been taken over by neocons that have a completely different agenda - and they have. That's why it's imperative that Obama wins IF we want ANY real change. That's also why MANY Republicans I know are QUIETLY supporting Obama. Look at the percentage of people unhappy with the direction this country is going in. That percentage is far too high to be JUST Democrats. BUT, our voting machines are STILL easily manipulated and those in power have no intention of letting go. It's too bad Americans did not demand that change since the last election. But they haven't. HOWEVER, I also won't be surprised to see a very public backlash if it happens again.

Bill Kristol is a shill for the neo-con movement and nothing else...make note of that. He is a pawn of the neo-con establishment that is used to see if a particular idea will stick or not, and to plan for the next phase of attack. Sort of like throwing a wet wad of toilet paper against the locker room wall.

Powell is forever tied to Bush's Iraqi invasion as a result of his testimony before the UN. And Kristol is inherently tied to the Bush neo-con propaganda machine as a result of his rhetoric over the past 8 years. It makes sense, therefore, to assume that the recent Kristol / Powell matchup is one that is contrived by the party elite.

he's part of the bush lies and the bombs on baghdad. who cares what he thinks.

I love the possibility of the General endorsing Obama, and like even more the dream ticket of Obama/Powell!

Now then, Every person should vote his Conscience. Learn to think for yourself instead of being told what to do or think. Do not follow any party, or anything, for that matter, blindly.

With that said, I am prior US Army, and registered as an Independent.
In the 04 election I voted for W; as a Soldier, I did not see Kerry as a commander in chief. Besides, W needed to finish what he started.

In this election, McCain comes off as way too eager wanting to preside; he is a wannabe! He too desperately wants to be president; I do not trust this man.

Obama with General Powell as his VP would command respect. I believe this team can put this country on right path, and the USA can resume its rightful place as The Leader of the Free World!

How odd that Barack Obama campaign started this rumor. I thought Obama had a website that was dedicted to shooting down rumors about his campaign?

It seems that only applies to the rumors they do not start themselves! I guess some rumors are better then others!

I am really disappointed about this - it would seem to me he would endorse one of them. McCann is a oldie but goody and Obama is the future for our children. Seems like to me that Powell should remember McCann certainly didn't work his way to the top. People born with a silver spoon in their mouth alway want and are determine to have anything and everything in life.

He should stick to hosting the Oscars and leave republican politics to true Americans like Bill OReilly and Rush Limbaugh.

It would add to Obama's stature if Colin Powell did endorse him for president over the GOP candidate. He has a good reason; Barack Obama showed much better judgement on the folly of going to war in Iraq than either Bush or McCain.

Our family hopes so much that Colin Powell will endorse Obama....not because they are both black. I think it would be racist for anyone to assume if he supports Obama, it must be because of that ! That is so ignorant.
I hope that Powell supports Obama because Obama is the best person to lead our country out of the mess that Bush and his followers, i.e. McCain have made it.

"A people living under the perpetual menace of war and invasion is very easy to govern. It demands no social reforms. It does not haggle over expenditures for armaments and military equipment. It pays without discussion, it ruins itself, and that is an excellent thing for the syndicates of financiers and manufacturers for whom patriotic terrors are an abundant source of gain" - Anatole France

This is where America is in 2008. We need someone with the energy, the passion and the wisdom of Obama. I just hope enough of us can see this. When people say he's "just a good speaker", I wonder they really hear what he says? Can they hear the genuineness of his character?

No one running for president in this country can be perfect that is for sure. And he isn't. But he's about as good as we've got for a very long time. He's no rock star. He's a good, wise man who cares about America. And incidentally, he's Afro-American and Caucasian...does anyone remember his mother was that? Why do so many people see color more than character? America needs Obama.

A thoughtful endorsement from Colin Powell would be an antidote to some of the silly politics of the moment, an opportunity to significantly impact history.

I have loved and defended Coliiin Powell. It breaks my heart to have him be so untrue to what I thought he stood for. Secretary Powell, you are a traitor to poor Christian Americans like myself who love to help others but abhor socialism and hatred of America. My life now feels unsafe--I'm already under contiual threat at the university where I teach--I was told I was an embarassment to the university because I did not wish Michael Moore's' film to be shown. You have abandoned your friends and fellow Christians.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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