Colin Powell says he’s not prepared to endorse Barack Obama again, as he did during the 2008 campaign. But for the moment, it seems as if Powell has a thumb on the scale in the president’s favor.
In separate television interviews as he promotes his new book, the retired general and former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush both praised President Obama’s efforts on the economy and raised questions about Mitt Romney’s views on foreign policy.
But, he insists he plans to keep his “powder dry” when it comes to throwing his support behind one of the two.
“I feel as a private citizen, I ought to listen to what the president says and what the president’s been doing. But I also have to listen to what the other fella’s been saying,” Powell said on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
Powell said he’s known Romney for many years, and called him a “good man.” But he said the choice won’t come down to just Obama or Romney; he’s also going to consider “who they have coming in with them.”
It’s a thought he expanded on Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” suggesting Romney may want to include different voices in his foreign policy brain trust.
“I don’t know who all of his advisers are but I’ve seen some of the names and some of them are quite far to the right, and sometimes they, I think, might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought,” he said.
“For example, when Gov. Romney not too long ago said the Russian Federation is our No. 1 geo-strategic threat. Well, come on, Mitt. Think!”
It was a statement Powell said was “catching a lot of heck from the more regular GOP foreign affairs community.”
“Look at the world. There is no pure competitor to the United States of America,” he said. “All of the problems we talk about -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, you name them all -- come to about 700 million, 800 million people in a world of 7 billion. What are the rest of them doing? They’re increasing their economies, they’re building wealth, they’re educating their kids, they’re building an infrastructure. That’s what we need to be doing.”
On Monday, Powell said Obama has made progress on such domestic issues, “bringing stability in the economy.”
“I think he took us out, not completely out, but he took us out of the most difficult problem we were facing at that time, which was an economy that was collapsing,” he said. “It’s improving, but not fast enough. So his No. 1 goal for the rest of this year, as it should have been for the whole four years, is to get the economy running again.”
Powell, a Republican, endorsed Obama in the closing weeks of the 2008 campaign. At the time, he called Obama a “transformational figure” and raised concern about a GOP shifting further to the right.