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Posted by on Aug 24, 2008 in Politics | 20 comments

New Speculation On McCain’s Running Mate: Colin Powell?

How topsy-turvy is this campaign? A little more than a week ago there was a flap over a report by Weekly Standard bigwig and New York Times columnist conservative William Kristol, indicating former Secretary of State Colin Powell might endorse Democratic Senator Barack Obama — and even show up at the Democratic convention.

But now — not even two weeks later — comes a report via The Politico that says McCain has Powell on his Veep list:

Retired Gen. Colin Powell is among the potential running mates who have been considered by John McCain, campaign advisers told Politico.

Powell was among the possible vice presidential choices the Arizona Republican senator was thinking of when he said he would not rule out a supporter of abortion rights, a key adviser said.

Read the short post in full.

That’s a short post, to be sure, but one to raise some eyebrows. All kinds of theories will emerge now. Is Powell finally getting ready to run for elective office — but with McCain? Is this leaked out to raise suspense about McCain’s choice and move some attention away from Denver back to the McCain camp? And would Powell ever consider such an offer seriously?

And if he’s on McCain’s short list, is he on the list because Powell agreed to be in consideration — or is McCain considering on his own without Powell’s consent or even implied interest?

It’s dubious given that Powell made it clear as far back as February that he could even vote for a Democrat this year. Read the Woodward book, read Powell’s comments. It would truly be a shocker and for that reason would shake up the political world. But don’t hold your breath, — even if this new speculative story starts sucking up the air..

UPDATE: Here’s one thought. Most informed speculation on McCain’s choice has centered on former Gov. Mitt Romney. But is the way the mcCain camp is going after irked Hillary Clinton voters a sign that he may pick one of several high-powered women? It would be surprise if he picked Condi Rice, for example. The hitch: Rice has never run even for Mayor. But there are others..

UPDATE II: Blog reaction is trickling in:

Ed Morrissey:

Powell’s decision to leave the Bush administration has made him into a bigger hero than before with independents, centrists, and some Democrats. That’s why Kristol’s speculation stoked such worry among Republicans. He remains a formidable figure with great respect and national reputation, and his endorsement of Obama for President would go some way to eliminate worry over his inexperience in the center.

On the other hand, McCain’s selection of him as running mate would bolster his standing with both the center and the pro-military constituencies. The biggest drawback would be Powell’s pro-choice stance, but Powell has never had to cast a vote on a bill affecting abortion in his life. McCain would hope that a personal stance on the issue could get minimized with statements of supporting strict constructionists to the court…The Powell trial balloon looks more like a way to counter the Kristol story than a serious selection for the VP slot by McCain. If McCain could get Powell to accept the position, it would definitely be a coup, but Powell’s made it clear he isn’t interested.

Brilliant at Breakfast:

“Mitt has too many houses! Quick — get us a black guy!”

You have to believe that something akin to that is being bandied about at Camp Grandpa Simpson after Joe Biden announced yesterday that “Housegaffe” is not going to be allowed to slink quietly into the shadows.

Flopping Aces:

Oh, it definitely would be a coup to get him on the ticket but the man could of won the nomination for President if he desired, why take a back seat job?

He would bring even more military prestige to the ticket, and his stance against the Bush administration would be a winner among those Hillaryites who can’t stand Obama, as well as his pro-choice beliefs. That last one would be a real downer for conservatives tho. But if it guaranteed that Obama would never sit in that chair in the oval office, would it be worth it?

I for one would say yes.
Just One Minute:

As to “Ready to Lead On Day One” – well, a McCain/Powell ticket would have so much gravitas that it might displace tides and the moon, let alone the cute and fluffy Obama/Biden. Geez, talk about bringing a bag of rocks to a pillow fight…

Now, there might be a question of whether anyone other than the press corps would actually vote for these two. Republican strategists ought to weigh carefully the merits of a ticket that actually included a Republican, but this might be the year for something different. Powell would excite me; Romney would put me to sleep.

Red State Eclectic:

Now I respect General/Secretary Powell’s service to his country. But frankly, I think he would be about the worst of the potential candidates for VP that I’ve heard so far–worse even, than Mitt Romney. Think about it…

Read the extensive post in full to find out why..

Matt N’s Blog:

I really hope that it’s true. McCain-Powell would be an unstoppable force in 2008 as the most bipartisan and reasonable Republicans that could be chosen for 2008.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • kritt11

    That actually might help McCain. This is a year where the public wants less partisanship, and where both candidates said they’d be willing to appoint qualified members of the other party to Cabinet posts.

    Amazingly enough, Powell is still respected by most Americans(despite the UN speech scandal that started a war!). You would have 2 experienced war heroes on one ticket. If the problems continue with Georgia– people could still vote out of their fears of global instability or the fear of starting a new cold war.

  • superdestroyer

    Who cares who McCain picks since he has no chance of winning. Who Obama picks as Secretary of the Interior is more important than any decision made by McCain. And juding by the horrible staff work that is a trademark of the McCain campaign, whatever the annoucement will be, it will be screwed up and McCain will step on his own lines.

  • kritt11

    SD- McCain is 5 points ahead of Obama. I don’t think your predictions are grounded in reality.

  • superdestroyer

    Obama is ahead in 8 polls and McCAin is ahead in two.

    Of couse the Obama campaign has over twice the funds of McCain and is going to make the Republicans work in states that have been locks for the Republicans in the past. However, there is no former blue state where the Republicans are ahead.

    The media wants the election to appear close until the last few days so that people will pay attention. The poll numbers show that Obama is far in the lead.

  • SteveK

    McCain – Powell… I think not.

    Colin Powell WILL NOT sell out his principles/values twice in a row.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    My goodness! People like Kristol trashed Powell for being too squishy in the lead up to the Iraq War.

    Now they’re trying to bail themselves out via his good reputation.

    The sense of entitlement of the neocons is like a bottomless well,.

  • StockBoySF

    Powell would help McCain but I don’t think Powell would really want to be associated with the same group of people that caused his downfall. Powell knows that McCain is being told what to say in order to win. Powell would not Swift-boat Obama.

    My sense is that because McCain’s campaign and other Republicans with influence are throwing out various names, especially names like Hillary (Kristol) and Powell, that they are running a little scared with the Obama/Biden choice. As such these names would inevitably help McCain, but they are not realistic. They’re knee jerk reactions. They also give pundits something to talk about other than Obama/Biden.

  • StockBoySF

    Oh, I think McCain will pick Pawlenty, the MN guv.

  • kritt11

    Just because female voters are angry because Hillary is not the nominee does NOT mean they want Condi Rice as the US VP. This is like thinking you could replace Obama with Michael Steele.

  • kritt11

    SD- the polls are the reason Obama picked Biden in the first place. If he wasn’t worried about how he compared to McCain in experience and foreign affairs he would have picked Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine!

  • christoofar

    I really think that Powell has had enough of politics after the last 8 years to want to jump back in – especially as McCain’s running mate.

  • superdestroyer


    As I have already pointed out, the VP has virtually nothing to do with foreign policy. If the wonk wannabes would remember how the government actually works, the talk of foreign policy expertise would stop. Did Al Gore have anything to go with foreign policy in the Clinton Admnistration. Have we already forgotten how the State Department fueded with the VP Cheney’s staff.

    Unless Senator Obama says that he plans on giving Biden some specific responsiblity for foreign policy, then it all just campaign time marketing.

    I think Senator Obama picked someone without many built in constituencies and who is too old to run for president in eight years. That means that Senator Obama is really mentoring others.

  • kritt11

    SD- And in the feud with Colin Powell- who won? Cheney. If you haven’t realized that he has been the most influential VP in recent history yet, you probably never will. When Bush took over– he had only been out of the country once. He knew nothing about foreign policy– even Condi was enlisted as a tutor. That left him prey to a sneaky older guy who had fallen in with neocons like Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. Cheney has run rings around cabinet members who had no access to W.

  • kritt11

    BTW- One of the main reasons W hung onto Rummy so long was due to his close relationship with Cheney. Its hard to find anyone except maybe A. Gonzales who did a worse job in the administration, yet Rummy hung on until ’06. His replacement , Bob Gates, has actually managed to undo a lot of the damage.

  • superdestroyer


    I think you have forgotten the initial success that Rumsfled had in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld thought we have a visionary and was recreating warfare. It was not until a year after the invasion of Iraq and everyone began to blame Rumsfled. However, there were many in the Pentagon who hated Rumsfled and espeically Wolfowitz.

    Bush talk about using Cheney in the foreign policy role. I doubt if Senator Obama really plans of giving Senator Biden any direct responsbility. Remember, all Clinton did with Gore was give him the program of using credit cards to purchase government supplies.

    A good quesiton is who SEnator Obama sees as his heir or will Obama be like President Clinton as refuse to share the stage or be like Bush as be unable to identify talent and advance people?

  • Jim_Satterfield


    A minority of Clinton supporters have apparently abandoned anything resembling rational thought once Clinton lost. For them the VP slot doesn’t matter, only striking back at Obama and the Democratic Party motivates them now.

  • StockBoySF

    SD, that’s an interesting question- who does Obama see as his heir for president. Perhaps he doesn’t see anyone as his heir apparent, after all W choose Cheney and we all know that Cheney was never going to run for prez. Nor did the Bush/Cheney/Rove establishment groom anyone. This keeps the door open for HIllary to run in 8 years (if Obama wins now and is then re-elected). In eight years Hillary will still be younger than McCain is now…

    This is also good news for those Dems who do want to be president someday- instead of waiting sixteen years, then only need to prepare themselves after eight… Waiting sixteen years when you’re in your 40s and 50s and 60s is a long time…

  • superdestroyer


    I doubt if the U.S. will be interested in voting for a “little old lady” in eight years. Female politicains suffer from the same problem that female actors suffer from: the do not age as gracefully as men.

    this was the time for Hillary clinton to win and she missed her chance. I believe that is why she stayed in the race for so long. She has no second chance unless Senator Obama loses and that just is not going to happen.

  • kritt11

    SD- I agree that Rummy had initial success in Afghanistan– but he had 3 years of failure in Iraq, and had enormous trouble listening to higher-ups in the Pentagon, who did not see his vision working in the real world. Even long after it was apparent that the military could no longer work with him, he retained his post. This was because Cheney stepped in. Powell was not given access to Bush’s inner circle, and was often sideswiped by Cheney- who did not care about getting other countries on board with our plans. He also sabotaged efforts by Condi Rice, who he didn’t think was tough enough.

    I’m not saying that this worked well- it didn’t- but Cheney never took the traditional VP role of going to funerals and giving speeches. Clinton is not Obama. Clinton didnt’ select Gore for his expertise in foreign affairs– but Its a probable bet that Obama selected Biden because of it. There’s no sure way of knowing what Biden’s role would be in the new administration unless he’s elected.

  • kritt11

    Jim S- As a former Hillary supporter, I reluctantly agree with you. I understand the anger and frustration of these voters, but I really see it as acting as a spoiler– ala Nader voters in 2000. It makes just as little sense– as we should be focusing on the issues and not hurt feelings.

    If McCain does win he has pledged to continue many of the initiatives begun by George Bush. He would probably be less partisan and more competent, but he is still a conservative Republican who will submit conservative picks for the SCOTUS. That would set the progressive movement back even farther.

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