Powell holds off on next endorsement, says Obama should focus on 'governing'

Colin Powell is holding off on endorsing President Obama in the 2012 election, but said that he still views the president as a “transformational figure.”

Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of State under the Bush administration, backed Obama for president in 2008. But on Sunday he said that he would wait closer to 2012 to make his endorsements.

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"I will look at the needs of the country, the situation as I see it, and I will evaluate both candidates and see which one I think is best able to lead the country," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Powell added that in 2008 Obama was the best pick, and praised some of the work he has done so far.

“We had a country that was in recession. Heading into depression. We had banks failing. We had a stock market collapsing. We were in difficulty. And I thought that he was best able to deal with that with the advisers he was surrounding himself. And we have stabilized our economy. So, I think that worked out,” he said.

He backed Obama’s work on health reform and education and said that Obama should “get credit” for his work. However, Powell warned Obama that he now needs to focus on “governing” rather than worrying about daily campaign problems or reacting to everything that comes out in the news. Obama needs to “get above all of that.”


Powell said that Obama needs to “shift the way he has been doing things.”

"There are so many rocks in our knapsack now that we're having trouble carrying it. I think the president has to, like a razor blade, just go right after the single issue that is uppermost in the minds of the American people, and that's employment,” Powell said. For the American people “the main attack is employment,” he added.

“I think he has lost some of the ability to connect that he had during the campaign,” Powell said.

Powell said that he is still Republican. He considers himself moderate Republican and has not thought about leaving the party, he said on "Meet the Press." He said he is not happy with his party’s shift to the right but said that the Republicans still have “strength” in the two-party system.

However, he said that the Tea Party will remain just a movement if it does not start speaking to the issues as opposed to just presenting slogans. He also said that there is nothing wrong with former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “animating” political life. Palin has boosted several Tea Party candidates throughout the country.