30 October 2008

Colin Powell returns to the fore in US Presidential Election

-- Originally written: 17th October

This Sunday (19th October) sees Colin Powell return to the political fray. His return could be make-or-break for John McCain. Powell was, at one time, seen as a potential running mate for McCain. However, his return is seen as extremely controversial as it has emerged that his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” could be used as an opportunity to back Barack Obama instead.

This would be a huge move for Powell, who has served under the past three Republican administrations, most recently as President George W Bush’s Secretary of State up until 2005. However, he was unceremoniously removed from that position and replaced by Condoleeza Rice. Although Powell is heavily linked to the Republican Party he professes not to know if he is a Republican or a Democrat. If he does in fact endorse Senator Obama it will be an embarrassing move for John McCain, the Republicans and George W Bush.

For Powell to support Obama would be a huge disappointment to McCain, as Powell carries with him a great wealth of foreign policy experience as well as a high standing within American society amongst all walks of life. An endorsement for Obama would surely boost his ratings in the polls even further and make his lead insurmountable with less than three weeks of campaigning left, and no more live debates for Senator McCain to score points.

Colin Powell is seen by many as a maverick. He was at the forefront of the Iraq debacle where he presented flawed evidence to the UN Security Council regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This event obviously hurt Colin Powell as he has talked in the past of his distress in his actions taken that fateful day in New York. Powell has been able to distance himself from the wreckage that is the Bush administration, and although having been involved in the Iraq War, he has managed to disassociate himself with it and still remain a credible and respected member of the political elite in the US.

It remains to be seen whom Colin Powell will endorse. However, his entry into the election race at this late stage could give either candidate a boost before the November 4th Election. I am unwilling to go out on a limb and make a prediction here because I feel it really is too close to call. However, it is John McCain that needs him the most.

By Stewart Munn

Note: Since this post was written, Colin Powell has announced his endorsement of Barack Obama. During a Meet the Press interview (Sunday 19th October), Powell cited "his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities", as well as his "style and substance." He also referred to Obama as a "transformational figure."

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