Sunday, October 19, 2008

Complete Text of Powell's Endorsement

Text as transcribed by yours truly from an embedded video of Colin Powell's endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President:


Brokaw: General Powell, last year you very publicly made a campaign contribution to Senator McCain, you have met twice, at least, with Barack Obama, are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates you’re prepared to support?

Powell: Yes, but let me lead into it this way: I know both of these individuals very well now; I’ve known John for twenty-five years… and I’ve gotten to know Senator Obama quite well over the past two years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good President. I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done; I have some concerns about the direction the party has taken—in recent years it has moved more to the right than I would like to see, but that’s a choice the party makes. And I’ve said to Mr. Obama, “You have to pass the test that, do you have enough experience, and do you bring enough judgment to the table, that you would give us confidence, that you would be a good President.” And I have watched them both, over the past two years, frankly, and I’ve had this conversation with them.

I have especially watched, over the last six or seven weeks, as both of them really have taken a “final exam” with respect to this economic crisis that we are in… and I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both. In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure of how to deal with the economic problems that we are having—almost every day there was a different approach to the problem—and that concerns me; it gave the sense that he didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we have. And I was also concerned by the selection of Governor Palin: she’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired, but at the same time, now that we’ve had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States—which is the job of the Vice President. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama … during this seven-week period, and he’s displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge, and an approach to looking at problems like this, and in picking a Vice President that I think is ready to be President on Day One, and also in not just jumping in and changing every day, but in showing intellectual vigor, I think he has a definitive way of doing business that will serve us well.

I also believe that, on the Republican side … the approach ... has gotten narrower and narrower, while Mr. Obama has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He’s crossing lines. Ethnic lines. Racial lines. Generational lines. He’s thinking about how all villages have values, all towns have values—not just small towns have values.

And I’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently … on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation, that’s been going on for weeks, has become something of a central point of their campaign, but Mr. McCain keeps saying that he’s just a washed-out terrorist, so why do they keep talking about him? And why do we have these 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—that somehow Mr. Obama is tainted? What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that’s inappropriate.

Now I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one-another, and that’s good. 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, and I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me.

The party has now moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin indicates a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a McCain Administration. I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but by what members of the party say, and are permitted to be said. Such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well the correct answer is, “He’s not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian.” But the REALLY right answer is, “What if he is?” Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? And the answer is no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven year-old Muslim-American kid, believing that he or she could be President? Yet I have heard SENIOR members of my own party, drop this suggestion: “He’s a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was part of a photo-essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one picture, at the tail-end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington National Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave, and as the picture focused-in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards—purple heart, bronze star—it showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, his date of death (he was twenty years old), and then at the very top of the headstone? It didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David, it had the Crescent and the Star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Mushad Sultan Khan. And he was American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years-old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country—and he gave his life.

Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in these ways. And John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know, but I’m troubled by the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So when I look at all of this, and I think back over my Army career, we’ve got two individuals, either one of whom could be a good President, but which is the President that we need, now? Which is the individual that serves the need of the nation…? And I come to the conclusion that, because of 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—and you have to take that into account—as well as his substance, he has both style AND substance, because he has met the standard of being a successful President, an exceptional President, I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I will be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

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