Pros and Cons: Colin Powell as Obama’s Running Mate

Jun 15 2008 Published by under Featured News

With the news that Colin Powell has left the door open to supporting Barack Obama this fall, this edition of Pros and Cons comes straight out of the what if category. Although it is doubtful, we’ll evaluate the potential of an Obama/Powell ticket.

Resume : Retired General Colin Powell is the most well known former military man in the United States today. He most recently served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of State from 2001-2005. Before this, Powell served as Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor from 1987-1989, and was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1989-1993. Powell got his start serving a White House fellowship under Richard Nixon, and earlier served as an advisor in Vietnam from 1962-1963, and returned there from 1968-1970.

Powell has been awarded two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. Powell also founded the organization America’s Promise which is focused on helping nation’s youth and is built on five promises, ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors or coaches, safe places with structured activities during non-school hours, healthy start and future, marketable skills through effective education, and opportunities to give back through community service.

Pros to picking Powell : There has not been a former military man who is as popular as Powell since Dwight Eisenhower. For almost two decades now Powell’s name is often mentioned as a presidential candidate or a running mate. He is the only former member of the Bush administration who has remained popular. Powell would bring a gravitas on military and foreign policy issues to the Obama ticket that would be unmatched.

His Powell doctrine of using force as a last resort, but when force is used it should be with strong international cooperation, and be of an overwhelming nature, is the complete opposite of what Bush has done and McCain intends to continue to do. He would help Obama across the board with older voters, Republicans, and those who are concerned about security issues. He is a pro-choice Republican who is also in favor of reasonable gun control, and affirmative action. Powell is a centrist who might help pull Obama more to the middle. Adding Powell to the ticket would erase any doubts about Obama’s experience.

Cons to picking Powell : There aren’t many cons to picking Colin Powell, except for the fact that he has shown a complete reluctance to run for any office. None of us have any idea how Powell would do as a stump speaker. Would he be any good in a debate? The bigger question is how would America respond to an all African-American ticket? The nation’s views on race would be seriously tested with this ticket. Powell did make that infamous speech to the United Nations where he laid out the evidence of WMD’s in Iraq, so that might come back to bite him.

Odds of Obama selecting Colin Powell : The odds of Obama asking Powell to be his running mate and Powell accepting aren’t good. Powell has been offering Obama advice when he wants it over the past year, so there is a relationship between the two of them, but the likelihood that Obama would be able to convince the 71 year old Powell to cross party lines and run for office is pretty slim. My guess is that, if he wanted it, there would certainly be a role for him in an Obama administration.

The Choice-O-Meter says:

O (1 O for Colin Powell)

1 O = No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

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