"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Sunday, October 19, 2008

General Colin Powell Announces His Endorsement Of Barack Obama For President

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama Click Here For Additional MSN Videos

Powell, Former Bush Cabinet Official, Supports Obama (Update5)

By Ken Fireman and Julianna Goldman

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Colin Powell, a former Army general who served in three Republican administrations, declared his support for Barack Obamain an endorsement that may enhance the Democratic presidential nominee's standing to be commander in chief.

``I think he is a transformational figure,'' Powell said on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' today. ``He is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.''

Until now, Powell, the first African-American U.S. secretary of state, had stayed out of the political race between Obama and Republican John McCain. The endorsement could help allay voter concerns Obama lacks national security and foreign policy experience.

Obama said he is ``beyond honored'' and ``deeply humbled'' to get Powell's support. ``This is a city and a state that knows something about great soldiers,'' Obama told a crowd of 10,000 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. ``A great soldier, a great statesman and a great American has endorsed our campaign to change America.''

Powell's endorsement caps a weekend in which Obama's momentum has swelled. As polls show him with a steady lead, the Illinois senator today announced his campaign raised $150 million last month, more than doubling his previous record. In Missouri, a battleground state that is traditionally Republican, Obama yesterday attracted some of the largest crowds of his campaign, 100,000 at a St. Louis rally and 75,000 in Kansas City.

Record Fundraising

McCain, appearing on the ``Fox News Sunday'' program, said Obama's record fundraising and spending could lead to a ``scandal'' and attacked his opponent for opting out of the public financing system designed to limit big-money donations from private contributors.

He also sought to play down Powell's endorsement, remarking that it wasn't a surprise. He said he will ``continue to respect and admire Secretary Powell.''

In endorsing Obama, Powell said, ``It isn't easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way that I have this morning and I regret that.'' Still, Powell said that he was concerned about the negative direction McCain's campaign has taken recently, mentioning attempts to tie Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers

`A Little Narrow'

``I understand what politics is about -- I know how you can go after one another and that's good,'' Powell said. ``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.''

Powell also criticized McCain for selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. While Powell said Palin is a ``very distinguished woman and should be admired,'' he said, ``I don't believe she's ready for being president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.''

On the other hand, Obama's choice, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, would be ``ready to be president on day one,'' Powell said.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on ABC's ``This Week'' program the Powell endorsement is significant.

``What that just did in one sound-bite -- and I assume that sound-bite will end up in an ad -- is it eliminated the experience argument,'' Gingrich said. ``How are you going to say the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, former national security adviser, former secretary of state was taken in?''

Phone Conversation

Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said the Democratic nominee called Powell this morning to thank him for his endorsement. In a 10-minute conversation, Obama said he looked forward to taking advantage of Powell's advice ``in the next two weeks and over the next four years,'' according to Gibbs.

The U.S. has ``managed to convey to the world that we are more unilateral than we really are,'' Powell said on ``Meet the Press.'' He added: ``The new president is going to have to fix the reputation that we've left with the rest of the world.''

With Powell's endorsement in hand, Obama parried a remark by Palin this week that she was addressing ``very pro-America areas of this great nation.''

``We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this country,'' Obama said in Fayetteville. ``We all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from.''

Powell, 71, a retired four-star general, most recently served as secretary of state during President George W. Bush's first term. He was part of a select group of advisers, known as the Vulcans, who briefed Bush on national security issues when the then-Texas governor was running for president in 2000.

Bush Adviser

Powell's participation in the group was cited by Bush supporters as evidence that Bush, who lacked experience in foreign affairs, was well advised in that area.

Before that, Powell was President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, and was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush, father of the current president. In the latter post, he had a large role in planning and executing U.S. strategy during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Powell's reputation was tarnished by a high-profile speech he made to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He has called the episode a ``blot'' on his record.

Powell made the case for the invasion by offering what he said was detailed evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weaponry was discovered after the invasion, and many of Powell's assertions in the UN address were later found to be inaccurate.

In 2007, in a presentation to the Aspen Ideas Festival, Powell revealed that he had unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Bush from invading Iraq in a conversation in August 2002. ``I tried to avoid this war,'' Powell said, according to a transcript on the festival's Web site.