May 22, 2012 at 8:16 AM ET
Though he believes President Obama has had several significant achievements during his first term, Gen. Colin Powell stopped short of giving him an official endorsement in the upcoming election.
Powell appeared on TODAY Tuesday to promote his new book, “It Worked for Me,’’ a compilation of lessons learned throughout his life. The Secretary of State under President George W. Bush endorsed Obama for president in 2008, calling him a transformational figure who could institute generational change. But while Powell lauds the president’s accomplishments, he is not ready to offer his endorsement just yet.
“I think he has been (a transformational figure), (but) not completely,’’ Powell told Matt Lauer. “There are some things that he has done that I wish he had not done – for example, leave Guantanamo open. I would’ve closed that rapidly. He tried, (and) he was stopped by Congress.”
One of Obama’s most significant achievements has been to reverse a spiraling economy, according to Powell.
“He stabilized the financial system, he brought about stability in the economy, (and) he fixed the auto industry. I think he took us out – not completely out – he took us out of the most difficult problem we were facing at that time, which was an economy that was collapsing. It’s improving, but not fast enough. His number one goal for the rest of this year, as it should’ve been for the whole four years, is to get the economy running again.”
When pressed by Lauer about whether his praise for Obama constitutes a similar endorsement to the one Powell gave him in 2008, Powell indicated that he has not made that decision yet.
“Oh, (Obama) knows better,’’ Powell said. “He knows that I always keep my powder dry, as they say in the military. I feel as a private citizen I will listen to what the president says and what the president has been doing, but I also have to listen to what the other fella says. I’ve known Mitt Romney for many years – good man. It’s not just a matter of whether you support Obama or Romney, it’s who they have coming with them.’’
Powell reserves the right to change his mind from the last election if the Republicans offer a better solution to the country’s problems.
“The beautiful part of being a private citizen is you can decide when you want to throw your weight, if you want to throw your weight,’’ he said. “I’m still listening to what the Republicans are saying they’re going to do to fix the fiscal problems. We have to get the economy moving, and I think I owe that to the Republican party.
“I also think that’s the right way to go about it. Too often in this country we simply stick with whatever you said last year even if it doesn’t work out or make sense, so I like to listen to everybody, examine everything and then in due course make a judgment and vote the way I think the correct way to vote is.’’