Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Sunday morning during his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The media spin has been that Powell, a Republican and former John McCain supporter, has taken very the unusual step of crossing party lines to back a Democrat he thinks will serve the country best.
But a review of Powell’s own campaign contributions with the FEC shows that he has crossed party lines once before to help an African-American Democrat in a federal race.
In 1994, then-Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the state’s first African-American governor, entered the Democratic primary in a bid for the U.S. Senate.
Records show that Powell donated $1,000 to Wilder’s campaign. Wilder later withdraw from the primary as polls showed him lagging three other candidates.
On “Meet the Press” Sunday, Powell’s explanation for his backing of Obama made clear that he thought Obama’s race was a major factor for his support, but not the only one.
Powell also described Obama as a “transformational” candidate.
Though Obama has no national security or executive experience Powell asserted that he had "met the standard" to be commander-in-chief. Powell again insinuated Obama’s race played a critical factor for him, noting his support "because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America".
Interestingly, Powell’s endorsement came despite the fact that in 2007 he dipped into his wallet and wrote a $2,300 check to McCain.
Powell’s contribution – the maximum allowed by law – came at a time when the press had written off McCain and said his campaign was about to collapse.
“[McCain campaign manager] Rick Davis called all the Republican heavy hitters in early August 2007, and said if they didn’t raise $50,000 by the end of the month, McCain was going to close up shop ,” a Republican insider who answered the same call from Davis told Newsmax.
Davis called it the “No Surrender” campaign. After the fundraising drive succeeded – with the help of Powell, among others - McCain liked the new brand name so well that he replaced the “Straight Talk Express” logo on his campaign bus with a huge sign that read, “No Surrender.”
“Of course, the phrase ‘No Surrender,’ could be applied to the McCain campaign as well,” The New York Times wrote in September 2007. “It was practically written off over the summer when it nearly ran out of money, forcing it to reduce its staff sharply and scale back its operations in all but three states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.”
McCain weathered the money pinch with the help of Powell, who wrote his check on Aug. 7, 2007 – at precisely the moment McCain needed it the most.
Since then, Powell has not given to any other presidential candidate and is barred from giving more to McCain because McCain has agreed to limit his campaign expenditures and accept public funding, unlike Obama.
In addition to his contribution to McCain’s presidential bid, Powell has written 44 checks to Republican candidates – including several liberal Republicans such as Arlen Specter, William Weld and Rudy Giuliani.
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