The Colin Powell endorsement of Senator Barack Obama came as a surprise this morning - to me anyway. I knew there were discussions and media speculations a few months ago, but crossing party lines is a serious matter. I imagine it was not a decision former Secretary of State Powell took lightly.
I would guess that in addition to the criticism he expects to come his way, Powell also thought about how his endorsement will affect Senator Obama's campaign. An endorsement does not necessarily have a positive effect. Will this endorsement emphasize the issue of race, which Obama has tried ardently to downplay? Will the discussions of Powell and his tenures as Secretary of State and U.S. General upstage the presidential candidate's campaign?
We can expect that Fox News and other supporters of John McCain will try to discredit General Powell's service and insinuate some surreptitious reasons for his resignation from the Bush administration. Some of Senator Obama's supporters may question Powell's reasons for announcing his support and wonder what he expects in return.
If the well-respected Powell anticipated all this and still made the decision to voice his support for the democratic candidate for president, then I can only hope it causes others to pause. If Powell who has held high office in the Republican party - and whose name was bandied about as a possible candidate for president himself - thinks Obama should be the next president of the United States, then I hope that other Republicans who vote exclusively along party lines take a look at the other side.