Colin Powell broke with his party to endorse Barack Obama yesterday, describing the Democratic candidate as a “transformational figure.”
In an already groundbreaking election, the Republican former Secretary of State criticised the tone of John McCain's campaign, and said Senator Obama is better-suited to solving the problems facing the US nation.
Powell's announcement, just over a fortnight before America goes to the polls, marked the biggest cross-party endorsement either candidate has secured so far and allowed the Democrats to dominate the headlines for another day.
As a four-star general and former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who has worked closely with three Republican Presidents, his support will calm fears that Obama is too inexperienced and may shift undecided right-leaning voters into the Democrat camp.
“Obama has displayed a steadiness; showed intellectual vigour. “He has a definitive way of doing business that will do us well,” Powell said in on NBC's Sunday morning chat-show Meet the Press. “He has both style and substance.”
“I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a President who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama.”
Powell's announcements kicked-off a positive day for the Democrats, who announced they had raised more than $150 million in September, the biggest monthly haul in American political history. Despite being a close friend with McCain for 25 years, he has been upset by the negative nature of his recent campaign, including focus on Obama's relationship with the 1960s radical Bill Ayres.
“Mr McCain says Ayres is a washed up terrorist, and we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted?”
“I think that's inappropriate. I understand what politics is all about, but I think this goes too far, and has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow.”
He also expressed disappointment in the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. “Now that we have had a chance to watch her, I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President. And that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment of Senator McCain.”
Mr McCain, was thrown on the defensive and said of the announcement in an interview with Fox news, he has been endorsed by four other former secretaries of state and: “Well, I've always admired and respected General Powell. We're longtime friends.” he said. “We have a respectful disagreement, and I think the American people will pay close attention to our message for the future and keeping America secure.”