Does the Colin Powell endorsement matter?

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On Thursday’s CBS This Morning Colin Powell, former Secretary of State to George W. Bush, endorsed President Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, saying, “I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.” Powell went on to explain why he is sticking with the president:

When he took over, the country was in very, very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration, and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was starting to collapse, and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising.


Foreign policy, though, seems to be a big reason Powell is sticking with Obama. Powell expressed his utmost respect for the Republican nominee, but said what he heard from Romney regarding foreign policy gives him “concerns.”  Powell said, “ the governor who was speaking Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he had been saying earlier, so I am not quite sure which Governor Romney we will be getting with respect to foreign policy.”

Colin Powell’s endorsement of then-Senator Obama in 2008 is regarded as a pivotal moment in that race.  Following Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, Steve Schmidt, a former senior adviser to the 2008 McCain campaign, said, “you know the positive movement that we had at the end of the [2008] campaign, it just smack dab [hit] the wall, it was over, when Colin Powell endorsed President Obama.”

Today may have brought back some feelings of resentment for Senator McCain, who was not too happy to hear about today’s endorsement. He lashed out at General Powell saying, “you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime.”

The question today is, does Colin Powell still have a strong influence on independent voters? Schmidt thinks so, saying a little over a month ago, “That’s an endorsement that matters in the middle of the electorate and in fact when you look at the people who are out there, you know on the sidelines, who have yet to endorse in this race. There’s one person who really matters, who has a lot of credibility: That’s Colin Powell.”

Does the Colin Powell endorsement matter?

Updated