VANCOUVER -- Colin Powell, the former Republican secretary of state, says he is not ruling out a vote for Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for president.
While Mr. Powell served in the administrations of two Republican presidents, he suggested yesterday his support for presumed Republican nominee John McCain is not a forgone conclusion.
He noted that although both he and Mr. Obama are black, he would not cast a vote for the Illinois senator on the basis of race. "I will vote for the individual I think that brings the best set of tools to the problems of 21st-century America and the 21st-century world regardless of party, regardless of anything else other than the most qualified candidate," Mr. Powell said at a news conference before delivering a speech to about 800 people attending a leadership forum at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
"Both of them certainly have the qualifications to be the president of the United States, but both of them cannot be," he said.
Mr. Powell has been supportive of Mr. Obama's successes, but was commenting after the senator recently clinched the Democratic nomination.
A 35-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Powell also noted he would not necessarily support Mr. McCain because of his extensive military service.
Asked whether he thought it was a difficult choice, he said: "I think so. Yes."