Colin Powell endorses Obama for president

WASHINGTON Powell says he's unhappy with what he calls the negative tone of the campaign of his fellow Republican, John McCain.

McCain says Powell's decision comes as no surprise; no surprise, and of little consequence, say Republicans who believe the Powell endorsement will have a shelf life of a couple days, and then will fade away.

However, this was not just an endorsement. It was George Bush's first-term secretary of state also rebuking his own party for, as he says, moving too far to the right.

Barack Obama, Powell says, has a "steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, and depth of knowledge to approach the nation's problems."

"I think he's a transformational figure. He's a new generation coming on to the American stage, and for that reason, I'll be voting for Sen.Barack Obama," Gen. Colin Powell said.

Colin Powell says that he has great respect for his long-time friend, John McCain, but that McCain seems unsure of how to deal with our economic miseries. His choice for running mate, Powell says, is not qualified. And further, the Republican campaign, Powell argues, is mired in narrow issues, like Obama's association with UIC education professor and 60's radical Bill Ayers.

"This Bill Ayers situation became a central issue in the campaign. Senator McCain says he's a washed-up terrorist. Well then, why does he keep talking about him?" Powell said.

Chicago political consultant Don Rose concedes that endorsements quite often don't mean much. But this one, he says, because of who Powell is, has the power not just to consolidate votes but to swing them, including those of independents, Republican moderates, and military personnel, especially those in battleground states.

" "This... it's solid gold," Rose said. "He [Powell] is telling the man [Obama] that he is qualified to hold this job. That kind of endorsement cannot be bought," Rose said.

McCain shrugged off the Powell's endorsement of Obama. It was not unexpected. McCain's Illinois campaign co-chair Jim Durkin says it'll fall from the radar screen in the next couple days.

"I don't think people are putting much stock into endorsements. If we want to do that, McCain can roll out the four secretaries of state who've endorsed him and the 300 generals. I don't think it means a lot," State. Rep. Jim Durkin said.

Republicans question the timing of Sunday's announcement from Powell, with16 days to election day. Others suggest that Powell's endorsement is based on race or the unhappy residue from his departure as secretary of state.

Powell said he will not campaign for Obama, does not desire to return to government, but he said he wouldn't rule out accepting an appointment, if one was offered.

John McCain said Sunday that he had always admired and respected Colin Powell and would continue to do so.

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