Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says he will vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president.
"I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Powell said he was concerned about what he characterized as a recent negative turn of Republican candidate Sen. John McCain's campaign, such as the campaign's attempts to tie Obama to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.
"I think that's inappropriate. I understand what politics is about -- I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for," he said.
The retired, four-star general said the financial crisis, which he called "the final exam" for the presidency, showed him Sen. Obama can handle the job, while Sen. McCain failed.
"Obama displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge," Powell said.
"He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president," he said.
In a long and decorated Army career, President George W. Bush's former secretary of state attained the rank of four-star general. Gen. Powell first really came to the public eye as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm.
Gen. Powell said he is not voting for Sen. Obama because of race.
He said Sen. McCain's judgment concerns him.
But he said McCain’s choices in the last few weeks — especially his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice presidential running mate — had raised questions in his mind about McCain’s judgment.
“I don’t believe [Palin] is ready to be president of the United States,” Powell said flatly. By contrast, Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, “is ready to be president on day one.”
Powell also said he was “troubled” by Republican personal attacks on Obama, especially false intimations that Obama was Muslim and Republicans’ recent focus on Obama’s alleged connections to William Ayers, the founder of the radical ’60 Weather Underground.
Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.
“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society.
“I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” Powell said. “Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower.”
On Fox News, Sen. McCain said the endorsement came as no surprise.
"I'm also very pleased to have the endorsement of four former secretaries of state -- Secretaries [Henry] Kissinger, [James] Baker, [Lawrence] Eagleburger, and [Alexander] Haig -- and I'm proud to have the endorsement of well over 200 retired Army generals and admirals," McCain said.
Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich reacted this morning to Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arguing, "What that just did in one sound bite... is it eliminated the experience argument."
Powell, the former secretary of state, announced his long-awaited endorsement Sunday morning, explaining that he is backing Obama "because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of this campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities – we have to take that into account – as well as his substance – he has both style and substance – he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."
Gen. Powell says he has no plans to campaign for Sen. Obama.