Colin Powell expected to endorse Obama
Bush's former secretary of state and friend of McCain said to back Democrat
* Ewen MacAskill, Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Ed Pilkington in New York
* The Guardian,
* Saturday October 18 2008
Former secretary of state Colin Powell is expected to use a high-profile television appearance tomorrow to end months of speculation by throwing his support behind Barack Obama.
His decision to go on television just two weeks before the election suggests he has finally made up his mind.
Powell, a four-star general who worked closely with three Republican presidents, said he would decide between Obama and John McCain, a long-time friend, after watching the presidential debates, the last of which was held on Wednesday.
His endorsement would be the biggest Obama has secured so far. As a prominent member of President George Bush's administration, he may shift some Republican-leaning voters into Obama's camp.
McCain's campaign team admitted privately it would be a blow, not least because it would be another day in which Obama dominated the news. But Democratic strategists are divide about the benefits. One said yesterday he was concerned it could backfire. He suggested that Powell's decision might be seen as being based on racial solidarity and that could alienate some white voters already reluctant to back Obama on grounds of race.
The sceptical strategist added that Powell, though once so popular he was considered as a potential candidate for the White House, was badly tarnished by his involvement, as secretary of state, in making the case for Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.
Powell, 71, who is to appear on NBC's Meet the Press, told a conference in Washington last month that he was undecided. "I've said to my beloved friend and colleague, John McCain, a friend of 25 years - John, I love you - but I'm not just going to vote for you on the basis of our affection and friendship," Powell said.
"I've said to Barack Obama, I admire you, I'll give you all the advice I can, but I won't vote for you just because you're black. We have to move beyond this."
Obama won the endorsement yesterday of the Washington Post. "There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Senator John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Senator Barack Obama for president," the Post said.
The newspaper said McCain had lost its support because of the way he conducted his campaign - singling out his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Post was the 40th newspaper to endorse Obama for president. So far McCain has the support of 15 newspapers.
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