What Powell wants in a 2012 presidential candidate

September 2, 2011

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

But the former top U.S. military officer, who once considered a presidential run of his own, tells NPR’s “Morning Edition” he’s undecided about which candidate to vote for in the 2012 election.

“I’m always undecided in every election,” he said in excerpts of an interview taped for Friday. “I always measure each candidate against what I think the country needs at that time and I will vote for the person I think who is most qualified to serve the nation at that time.”

Powell said he could support a Republican in the 2012 campaign — if  someone emerges who is like the Republicans he voted for in the past.

“I’ve voted for Republicans who were strong on defense, who believed in a free and open economy, but who also understood that there’s a place for government in our lives, that government has a responsibility to those of our citizens who are in need and those of our citizens who are needy of health care,” Powell said.

“I’ll be looking for those candidates that make the most sense with respect to resolving these issues as opposed to some of the more far-out positions that I sometimes hear expressed by some of them,” Powell added

The  2012 field of Republican White House hopefuls is dominated by conservatives — both fiscal and social.

After the 1991 Gulf War, Powell became a very popular American figure and was considered as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 1996. But he decided not to run.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Truth Leem  (Powell at Korea Vision Forum in Seoul May 2010)


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The standard term “conservatives” being used as the basket term for the current field of Republican “tea party” style candidates really exposes the inappropriateness of the term itself in this context. The “basket case” group of screaming and otherwise truly radical reactionaries who are hiding behind the term (conservative) are not conserving of anything much in the best tradition of American values. Actually, the “conservative” versus “liberal” dichotomy as generally abused in the press and in most commentary needs genuine root re-examination. “Liberal” used to mean something closer to “open minded”, and “Conservative” used to mean “hesitant to encourage change”. How far the white noise and static has overwhelmed intelligent discourse in these American decades of the past century!

Posted by aitengri | Report as abusive

Gan Powell made the right decision by not running for President. He would not have been a good President.
I would have thought he had learned from his time in Vietnam that America cannot win and should not fight in “limited Wars” Tragically, he lead us into the first “Limited” Iraq War and didn’t finish the job.

Posted by robertburns | Report as abusive

Colin Powell is not to be trusted. He switched parties when many, including myself, would have voted for him as President. Thank goodness we found out his true nature. He is a man with no values. He sold his soul to the devil. He has no credibility. He is now just another fat cat living off the taxpayers. This is what we get for trusting these turncoats.

Posted by Bretfox | Report as abusive

I find it difficult to determine what Powell means. Does “a strong defense” include invading and occupying any country that opposes us ala Dick Cheney? Providing for those “who are needy of health care” will rapidly become impossible if we continue with a health care “reform” that preserves the lack of price competition that is causing the nation’s health care costs to grow like cancer but I can’t tell if he knows that.

Personally, I wish he had run and won instead of Bush and Cheney but obviously he wants to stay out of this political contest.

Posted by MassResident | Report as abusive

Powell was definitely a memeber of the ‘WMD’ crowd that put us into a war without purpose. I resent that. I see him as a loyal general who did what he was ordered, but then later realized what a terrible thing it was and tried to get out. By then he lost credibility with the people and became just another in a long line of generals who will never tell us the truth. Look at the Pat Tillman case. The generals helped cover this up making a terrible tragedy even worse. Even worse, none of them were punished.

Posted by davidrayburns | Report as abusive

It sounds as if Powell has no other choice than to vote for Obama.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive