I'm Voting for Obama, Says Republican Powell; Colin Powell: 'We Need Change'

Article excerpt

Byline: David Gardner

REPUBLICAN former secretary of state Colin Powell stunned the party's presidential candidate John McCain last night by endorsing Barack Obama.

General Powell said electing Mr McCain's rival into the White House would 'electrify the world'.

'I think we need a transformational figure.

I think we need a president who is a generational change,' he added.

The influential former military chief, who was secretary of state under President Bush and was once thought most likely to be the first black U.S. president, insisted his decision had nothing to do with race.

He made a blistering attack on Mr McCain's campaign, despite their longterm friendship and his donation of ?1,500 - the maximum personal amount allowed - to the Republican candidate this summer.

The 71-year-old retired general said he decided to switch sides over the selection of Sarah Palin as Mr McCain's running mate, Mr McCain's stumbles over the economy and the Republican campaign's negative tactics.

He said of Mrs Palin: 'I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president.' General Powell, who is one of America's most highly respected Republicans, also said he was 'troubled' by personal attacks on Mr Obama, especially false claims that he was a Muslim and attempts to link him to a domestic terrorist from the Sixties.

'Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower,' he added yesterday on U.S. talk show Meet The Press.

'The party has moved even further to the Right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further Rightwards shift. It isn't easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way I have this morning, and I regret that.

'But I firmly believe that at this point in America's history, we need a president who will not just continue the policies that we have been following in recent years. …