Former Secretary of State Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama for Re-Election (Video)

Conservative Republicans and fans of former Vice President Dick Cheney may not love him, but former Secretary of State Colin Powell is popular with many moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, centrists and independent voters. On “CBS This Morning” he endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election (video below) — which means today Powell will likely be blasted and denigrated by talk radio and cable hosts and conservative new media critics as a RINO whose opinion carries no weight.

Here’s a little bit of news:

a) Powell’s opinion will carry weight for some independents and moderates who may be on the fence b)Powell’s re-endorsement will bolster Obama and the Dems’ theme that Romney is actually someone talking moderate who is moderating positions on the right and downplaying his promises and debts to those in the Republican Party’s far right, and, c)his comments about Romney will mirror what Americans feel about today’s Republican Party as they watched a once-moderate Massachussets Governor Romney veer right once he had national aspirations, veer more to the right during the primaries then veer abruptly to the center again starting in October in an effort to seemingly disguise assurances to the GOP’s right. This raises the issue in the minds of some as to whether Romney really stands, which Romnney is the real Romney and — as Powell notes — whether Romney has thought some issues completely through.

Powell stressed that he remains a Republican even so — thus again reflecting the viewpoint of a segment of Americans who feel the party they once loved and supported has moved away from them into the hands of talk radio host, far right PAC-bankrolling billionaires and Tea Party members. He said he remains a moderate Republican, which he acknowledged is a “dying breed.”

(CBS News) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke with the Republican party during the 2008 election, to endorse then-candidate Barack Obama for president, calling Obama a “transformational figure.”

With 12 days to go before the presidential election, Powell publicly endorsed President Obama for re-election on “CBS This Morning” Thursday

“I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.”

Powell explained his choice to Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell:

When he took over, the country was in very very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was start[ing] to collapse and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising.”

Summarizing the past four years under Obama, Powell said “Generally we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude.” He acknowledged that problems remain, saying “The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing but I see that we’re starting to rise up.”

Turning to foreign policy, Powell said he saw “the president get us of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars. And finally I think that the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very very solid. And so, I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.”

Powell expressed his concern about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s changing positions on international affairs. “The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night … was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.”

“One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal, same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern … is that sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have.”

Powell also said that he has given close consideration to Romney’s domestic policies. “As I listen to what his proposals are especially with respect to dealing with respect to our most significant issue, the economy, it’s essentially let’s cut taxes and compensate for that with other things but that compensation does not cover all of the cuts intended or the new expenses associated with defense.”

Powell stressed that the Obama and Reomney campaign had no early endorsement of his endorsement. He also stressed his “utmost respect” for Romney and noted that he talks to Obama regularly.

He added that with this endorsement, he “signed on for a long patrol with President Obama” and that he feels more comfortable with Obama’s stances on climate change, immigration, and education.

Powell also criticized congressional leaders for not living up to their responsibilities, mainly around resolving the approaching fiscal cliff.

“The major problem faced either by Gov. Romney or President Obama, whoever wins the election, is going to be what to do about the fiscal cliff we’re about to fly over,” Powell said.

“This is something that was put in place by Congress and while we’re talking about the two candidates for president let’s not forget that Congress bears a lot of responsibility for many of the problems that we have now. They’re the ones that write the appropriations bills. They’re the ones that pass the legislation for more spending and for the various entitlement programs that people have trouble with.”

Gen. Powell last joined “CBS This Morning” in June, and at the time remained noncommittal about his support for either candidate in the race for the White House. “Whatever judgement I have right now would be incomplete. I haven’t seen everything that Mitt Romney is going to do. I haven’t seen how our economy is going to play out,” he said in June.

And, despite his endorsement of a Democratic candidate in two presidential elections, Powell says he remains a Republican. “I think I’m a Republican of a more moderate mold,” he said before adding, “That’s something of a dying breed I’m sorry to say.”

And from the standpoint of moderates, centrists and many independent voters, one of the most significant parts of Powell’s statement was this:

“But, you know, the Republicans I work for are President Reagan, President Bush 41, [the] Howard Bakers of the world, people who were conservative, people who were willing to push their conservative views but people who recognized at the end of the day you [had] to find a basis for compromise.”

Here’s the video of the interview:

OTHER MEDIA:
Two Tweets by CNN’s John Avlon:

John Avlon ?@JohnAvlon
…and for folks spinning that Powell’s endorsement of Obama doesn’t matter – imagine their excitement if Powell endorsed Romney.

2h John Avlon ?@JohnAvlon
Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama carries real weight with independents – he’s been a barometer of their perspective…

New York Time’s The Caucus blog:

Mr. Powell, a retired Army general who was a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, criticized the Republican Party as failing to recognize a need for compromise. He also had sharp words for Congress, which he said had fallen down on the job in dealing with the nation’s fiscal burdens.

Four years ago, Mr. Powell announced his endorsement of Mr. Obama in an appearance on “Meet the Press” on NBC. He did not say during his interview Thursday on “CBS This Morning” whether he would campaign on Mr. Obama’s behalf.

“I voted for him in 2008,” Mr. Powell said, “and I plan to stick with him in 2012.”

Daily Kos:

And you know that this endorsement, and Powell’s assessment of Mitt Romney, has Republicans gnashing their teeth this morning.
Good times.

–Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey respectfully disagrees with Powell:

Didn’t get us into “any new wars” and protection from terrorism has been “very very solid,” eh? Maybe Powell missed those several weeks in the spring of last year when the US began bombing another country in an effort to decapitate its regime, and then fall back to support other nations’ efforts to do the same. That decision to go to war against Moammar Qaddafi — there is no other word for it — created the environment in eastern Libya where terrorist networks operate freely, including al-Qaeda, and have chased all other Western nations and most NGOs out of the area. The Obama administration was a little too slow to recognize the danger, though, and that’s why four Americans ended up dead in Benghazi in a well-coordinated terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11, including the first US Ambassador killed in the line of duty in 33 years.

I’m not surprised by Powell’s choice, although I’m a little mystified at his reasoning, especially on economic grounds. This is, after all, the worst economic “recovery” since World War II, and it’s getting worse each year rather than better. Powell says he’s still a Republican, but I suspect that he’s rather bitter about what happened in the march to war in Iraq, especially as it relates to him, and still holds a major grudge against Republican leadership. I’m certainly not going to personally belittle a man who has served this nation almost his entire adult life until his well-deserved retirement over his political preferences in an election. I just think he’s very, very wrong, and demonstrably so

--The Inquisitr:

Colin Powell’s Obama endorsement isn’t the first of its kind among prominent Republicans in recent weeks, in what has emerged as not only a tight race, but one that has effectively revealed America’s current state as a house divided.

But Colin Powell has also broken ranks with Republicans in recent years, after serving as Secretary of State and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under former President Bush.

Poli Pundit:

Powell voted for Obama in 2008. Lots of Republicans and moderates did. Obama offered a message of hope, change, post-racialism, and post-partisanship. Lots of people fell for it. And John McCain was an execrable, free-speech-hating, bank-bailout-pushing, grumpy old man.

But now? After seeing the reality of Obama, an extreme leftist ideologue whose record on both the economy and foreign policy is an unmitigated disaster? How can a “Republican” vote for Obama over the ultimate mainstream moderate, Mitt Romney?

Defense News.com:

As President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney are feverishly barnstorming swing states trying to gain support from swing voters, the incumbent picked up a key endorsement early Thursday.

Colin Powell, who was national security adviser and secretary of state to two GOP presidents, endorsed Obama on Oct. 25 during an appearance on “CBS This Morning.” A retired Army four-star general, he also is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell, perhaps the nation’s highest-profile African-American Republican figure for decades, said he has too many questions about how Romney would carry out foreign policy decisions.

“I am not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” Powell said.

--The American Spectator blog:

So…. Colin Powell, fulminating about the economy (as if he is an expert on that!) and avoiding all discussion of the incompetence and dishonesty of the Obama administration’s handling of Libya, has endorsed Barack Obama again. Gee, what a surprise. This is a man still playing out his personal picque at some imagined sleights during the administration of Bush 43.

But this is a man without honor. This is a man who allowed the spending of millions of dollars in a witch-hunt of a law-enforcement investigation even while personally knowing that his own top aide had been the one who inadvertently leaked the name of a second-tier CIA agent with a dishonest and histrionic husband. One word from Colin Powell, and the “Valerie Plame” case would have come to an end with no prosecutions, but with a few days, maybe just one or two news cycles, of public admonishment of his office for its carelessness. But no… Powell remained silent, thus settling some score with vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and his boss, Vice President Richard Cheney — letting Libby twist in the wind for an alleged cover-up of a non-crime for which Libby himself wasn’t even responsible, but for which Powell’s aide Dick Armitage was culpable instead. (Libby was convicted on a highly dubious perjury charge, based on a years-old conversation with newsman Tim Russert that Russert remembered differently. This was the same Tim Russert whose own memory had been shown to be horrifically wrong in another major court case, but who suddenly was supposed to be perfectly inerrant. Meanwhile, famed newsman Bob Woodward produced notes that Woodward himself said might tend to support Libby’s recollection — but no matter.

A cross section of Twitter reaction:

28m Ed Schultz ?@edshow
Colin Powell endorses President Obama for a 2nd term, citing Monday’s debate as reason you can’t trust Romney http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/10/25/colin-powell-endorses-president-obama-for-second-term/ …

1h Mark R. Levin ?@marklevinshow
Colin Powell endorses Obama: predictable, irrelevant, and pathetic… http://fb.me/1nW21hY0H

1h Abby Huntsman ?@HuntsmanAbby
Colin Powell, America’s most balanced and sane diplomatic leader, endorses Obama for another four years.

2h Norah O’Donnell ?@NorahODonnell
On @CBSThisMorning General Colin Powell says Obama’s actions protecting us from terrorism have been “very, very solid”

And these Tweets:

41m Greg Sargent ?@ThePlumLineGS
Colin Powell’s message to America: You can’t trust Mitt Romney: http://wapo.st/TCMjpW

1h DL Hughley ?@RealDlHughley
So Romney gets Stacey Dash Obama gets Colin Powell!!!! #TeamDl

1h utaustinliberal ?@utaustinliberal
Colin Powell says the neocons around Romney deeply concern him and it’s clear they’re the ones crafting his foreign policy.

2h Just Plain Mary ?@MWJ1231
Hey .@chucktodd, after Colin Powell saw that foreign policy debate, a Romney presidency scared the hell out of him. His endorsement matters.

2h Duke ?@DukeStJournal
The gist: Colin Powell doesn’t trust Romney’s tax cut offsets and doesn’t like what would eventually have to be cut.

2h Tim Mak ?@timkmak
Surprising that Romney didn’t ask Powell for endorsement (acc. to Powell)… he recently released a list of hundreds of ret. flag officers

2h Michael Damico ?@DCofStaff
General Colin Powell Endorses President Obama . Says Romney has NO Foreign Policy

2h Hawaii Shira ?@HawaiiShira
Colin Powell just may have put the nail in Romney’s coffin.

2h Tim Graham ?@TimJGraham
Powell says he won’t support Romney because of….tax cuts?

.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:

I noted here the other day that the Obama campaign’s closing message will include a final push to undermine voter confidence on a very fundamental level in Romney’s character, integrity, and trustworthiness. That case will focus heavily on Romney’s opposition to the auto-bailout and his subsequent dissembling about it; the Obama camp sees this as the perfect way to make the case, particularly in Ohio, that Romney can’t be trusted to come through for people when it really counts. Not only did he fail to do that when Ohioans needed the auto industry bailed out; he also lacks the integrity to come clean about it.

More broadly, the Obama camp now has video of Powell making the case that Romney isn’t being forthright about his foreign policy proposals, an arena in which voters presumably want to see evidence of steady leadership. Many pundits have argued that Romney did manage to reassure voters with his Monday performance, by clearing what they like to call a “commander in chief threshold.” But Powell has now directly undermined this case, too; expect this to be incorporated into Obama’s larger closing case against his GOP challenger.

You can follow more blog reaction HERE. And mainstream media coverage HERE.

13 Comments

  1. I respect Powell and I also respect his opinion. I’m sorry Mitt couldn’t have done better and gotten Powell’s endorsement.

  2. “I am not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” Powell said.

    That’s exactly why many can’t get behind Mitt Romney. I knew he’d move to the center after the primaries, but on EVERY position?! Assuming he even DID have strong positions on any one of the many topics he’s flip-flopped on, which one IS his? Does he have the backbone to force the Republicans to his position or will he bend to the extreme right controlling the GOP today?

    Too many questions.

    I remember how Romney ran the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Government bailout, hand-outs to his buddies, and other dirty business. Sure it was hushed up pretty well, but a little leaked.

  3. Colin Powell wants to be SecState in the next Obama term- its that simple.

    The optics are good and Powell is certainly Progressive enough to suit even this far-left POTUS.

  4. Rambie

    Does he have the backbone to force the Republicans to his position or will he bend to the extreme right controlling the GOP today?

    Good question. What do you think? I’m more concerned about his billionaire friend, Mr. Adelson. It’s like when, in the months before Iraq, we kept thinking “Surely not; not while we’re in Afghanistan” but we could see it was going to happen. I see an Iran conflict coming closer all the time and there ain’t a damn thing we can do to stop it.

  5. TO,

    I think Romney will say anything to get elected, then do as the Party tells him. It worked for him in Massachusetts.

    Seems if Romney wins a war with Iran will happen. I like your parallel to the build up to Iraq. Many of the same advisers for Romeny worked for GWB so maybe that’s why we’re having deja vu.

    If Obama wins reelection, it may not happen. but it may be inevitable to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. I do believe preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is the correct course, but hopefully a way can be found without getting into a war. I don’t trust Romney, or the GOP, to look for a non-war method.

  6. Five Thirty Eight has President Obama’s “Chance of Winning” at 71.0% (Up 5.3% from Oct 17)

  7. I have to wonder if any endorsement will help either candidate at this stage. I guess I am still shocked that anyone could be on this fence at this point in the race.

    Steve, I have been over to 538 yet. I am guessing the Ohio numbers are changing the odds.

  8. ShannonLeee is right in saying that it is unlikely that any endorsement will matter at this point because so few voters remain undecided, or so we are told. But Powell has enormous gravitas as well as GOP credentials. His endorsement therefore is a biggie and could move a few undecideds and reluctant Romney supporters.

  9. yep

  10. Well said Shaun.

  11. A good part of the nation listens to Colin Powell.. He may be the only one of this era that has served in a high level position with an inner substance that transcend politics… In his good through the good the bad and the ugly Colin Powell has served America… Even if we vote partisan, we listen to Colin Powell…

  12. Powell is a smart man. He was the one who decided to leave Saddam in power after the first gulf war, well aware of what we’d be taking on if we decided to remove him. That shows a man who knows consequences, even we are the biggest meanest kids on the block, there are times when you take a pass. I sincerely hope more moderate republicans like Powell start revitalizing their party in the coming years.

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