I have been a reporter for Colin Powell since the Reagan White House and later, when Powell was the very first Black chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the presidency of George H.W. Bush I was a close friend of Colin Powell in the years prior to that with Republican presidents as well as the GOP.
However, Powell was, first and foremost a soldier in an army, and was not really a political man. He was an unregistered independent from the time he was an infantryman fighting in Vietnam until his retirement from the military. To the end of his life the man preferred to be known as "General," rather than the more prestigious "Mr. Secretary."
It could be due to the fact that during his often tense time in the role of George W. Bush's top diplomat his decision to overrule the crucial choice to enter Iraq through the vice-president Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and, ultimately the president.
In his best times following his success in management of the initial Gulf War, he was probably the most well-known public celebrity in America at the time, riding the highs of a book tour across the country for his memoir, and in 1996, was seriously contemplating an opposition to the presidency of President Bill Clinton for an additional term.
According to Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Ben Kamisar point out in the Tuesday's "First Read," in March 1996 this NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll revealed Powell outshining Clinton in an hypothetical general election contest 37 percent to 47 percentat a time Clinton's rating for her job was higher than 50 percent.
Then, Powell decided not to decide to run. He did this after having tried the waters in the early primary states and prepared two speeches that aimed to go for it, and the other to withdraw. A portion of his reasons were personal, and involved his family. He told me in 2012 that when I asked him if he'd regretted about not having run "It was wrenching."
I interjected, "You lost sleep."
Powell responded: "Yes. It was a very difficult moment because I had didn't think I would be confronted in this manner and put the pressure of being under such stress. I'm an army soldier. However, after a few weeks of this I realized that this is not who I am. That's not what I do."
He then pointed out, as is widely acknowledged that his wife, Alma was also opposed to the idea. However, he added: "I don't have the drive to follow the same path that politicians do. I'm glad we have them. We must have these guys. I'm thankful we have Mitt Romney, we've got John McCain, we got Barack Obama and the Bushes and everyone is fantastic. It wasn't me. And when I refused I promised to find ways in order to serve my country and I did."
The wisdom of this choice was evident to me as Powell who was a popular national icon, spoke at in the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. It was also the year when the Bush campaign denigrated McCain at his South Carolina GOP primary, by launching racial and sexist attacks against McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter.
First Night Of Republican National Convention
President-elect George W. Bush welcomes retired Army Gen. Colin Powell to the first night session of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia on July 31st, 2000.Getty Images file
I was part of my NBC News team of four journalists covering the Republican floor of the convention. Powell is always loyal to his roots delivered a call to the GOP to accept diversity and affirmative action and argued in the following words:
"We must be aware of the cynicism prevalent within the Black community and the type of cynicism that results when, for instance members of our party aren't given the chance to loudly and loudly deplore affirmative actions that helped some a few thousand Black students gain an education. However, you don't hear a whine in the case of affirmative action taken by lobbyists who cram our tax code federally with special interest-based preferences. This doesn't work. It's not working. It's not possible to make that argument."
Never one to be comfortable in the political arena The former generalthe man who was four years earlier had been the first person to be a presidential candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower to be sought out by both parties to be a candidate for the White House -- then had to endure four years as the unpopular member of the Bush national security team.
The years that followed included his acceptance of what he was told was thoroughly checked CIA information about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapon that could cause mass destruction. Making that infamous speech in the United Nations in February 2003 was, as he later admitted it was an "blot" on his record that he has always regretted.
This experience, as well as McCain's good friend's decision to select Sarah Palin, who Powell believed was unqualified for the presidential race resulted in his breaking from and his departure from the Republican Party and his endorsement of Obama against McCain in 2008.
As Powell stated in his interview with NBC News' Tom Brokaw in his announcement during "Meet the Press," Powell was inspired by his belief that Obama as being the very first Black candidate running on a major-party ticket, was an inspirational leader. In addition, he was trying to stop the rising of Donald Trump, who was already taking aim at Obama's birthright of being an indigenous American.
Meet The Press
The former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks to Tom Brokaw during the taping on "Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C., on October. 19th, 2008.Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images from the Meet the Press file
Powell has also scheduled his announcement to maximize political impact. He announced it on a Sunday, just two weeks prior to Election Day. People who have been involved in both Obama and McCain's campaigns say that both sides were aware it was a blow fatal on Republican hopes.
Powell's deeply-rooted conviction in the diversity of people and the contribution immigrants make in American the American society a result from his family's Jamaican background and his experiences with being in Army as a melting-pot to advance that made his opposition towards Trump easy in the year the year 2016.
Though the Clintons were profoundly affected by his support for Obama in the race for president in 2008 His endorsement of Hillary Clinton against Trump was an obvious choice. Also, his support for Joe Biden last year.
Republican critics might say that the man who leapt over the rest of his colleagues to be the national security adviser of Ronald Reagan as well as George H.W. Bush's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had turned his back on the political party that gave him his start in public service.
After this Jan. 6 incident, Powell told Savannah Guthrie on"NBC's "TODAY" show that Trump was "responsible for one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in all my years as a government employee."
Powell will argue that the present Republican Party is not the party of Reagan and the Bushes or Powell's Cabinet friends Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker. While he is grateful for them, Powell reserving his greatest loyalty to not the political parties, but rather towards those who serve in the U.S. militar