On Thursday morning, President Obama picked up an important endorsement in his bid for re-election. Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave his endorsement of Obama. Speaking with CBS’ “This Morning”, Powell stated that he was more comfortable with the President than his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney. This is the second time Powell has endorsed Obama, having done so in the weeks before the Presidential Election of 2008.
So why is this endorsement such a big deal? Powell’s endorsement back in 2008 gave then-candidate Obama more credibility and therefore more viability as a candidate. More importantly Powell is a moderate Republican and an endorsement from across the aisle from a moderate could help Obama seem more favorable to those who fall in the middle of the political spectrum. Powell is also a prominent figure in the African American community as the first African American to hold the top military post as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Breaking ranks with his fellow Republicans is not new for Powell. Since his retirement, Powell has been outspoken in criticizing the Bush administration and fellow Republicans about issues such as immigration, foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is an endorsement that comes at a critical time for Obama. Mitt Romney has managed to close the polling gap between the two men, and in some cases has surpassed Obama in key states and among likely voters. Obama needs to improve his position among undecided voters, women, and those voters generally disenchanted with both candidates. Every endorsement he gains in the eleven days leading up to the election will help Obama’s chances of reaching out and becoming more favorable to voters.
While it remains to be seen just how much of an effect this endorsement will have, nonetheless it remains an important step forward for the President. It could be that this endorsement may stem the tide of the advancing Romney campaign. All that remains to be seen and the answer will not be clear until November 6th.