Byline: David Gardner
RETIRED General Colin Powell, the Bush administrations former secretary
of state and one of Americas most highly respected Republicans, stunned John McCain last night by pledging a huge vote of confidence in Barack Obama.
In a gushing endorsement, General Powell said electing the Democratic frontrunner into the White House would electrify the world.
He said: I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change.
The vastly experienced and influential former military chief, once touted as most likely to be the first black U.S. president, said his decision had nothing to do with race.
He made a blistering attack on Mr McCains campaign, despite making a maximum personal donation of e1,950 to the Republican candidate over the summer.
The 71-year-old retired general said he decided to switch sides in the last few months. He cited the selection of Sarah Palin as Republican running mate, Mr McCains stumbling over the economy and the Republican campaigns negative tactics as key reasons for his about-face.
He said of Mrs Palin: I dont believe shes ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.
General Powell also said he was troubled by personal attacks on Mr Obama, especially false claims th a t he was a Muslim and attempts to link him to a 1960s-era domestic terrorist.
Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower, he told Meet The Press, a Sunday morning U.S. talk show.
The party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further right-wards shift.
It isnt easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that, General Powell, said of his longtime friend and fellow military veteran.
But I firmly believe that at this point in Americas history, we need a president who will not just continue the policies that we have been following in recent years. …