by Christina London
Just in case you haven’t heard, Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama for president.
Last Sunday, the former Republican Secretary of State announced that he was supporting the Democratic candidate. Powell made his announcement to Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press over on the peacock network. Even though CNN didn’t get the big announcement, it was ready for post-game coverage.
Now, I understand that Powell’s announcement didn’t exactly come as a surprise. CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger says the Obama camp has “courted” Powell for months, and there were Internet rumblings all last week. Still, as soon at Meet the Press was over, CNN was on the air with two hours of reaction and analysis. On Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer hosted two political figures: former New York City mayor and presidential hopeful for the GOP Rudy Giuliani and Congressman Artur Davis, a Democrat from Alabama. They were followed by a discussion panel made up of CNN political strategists.
This made me wonder, what if Powell hadn’t made the announcement? What if he endorsed McCain instead...or didn’t endorse anyone at all? Would they have still interviewed the same guests and just asked them different questions? Or did they have backup guests lined up to talk about the economy? Obviously, this raises a lot of questions about what it’s like to be a CNN producer; so much coordination is involved for even short segments. By any means, I was impressed by the immediacy of CNN’s coverage of the Colin Powell announcement.
So how big of an impact will Powell’s endorsement of Obama have on the election? Some political analysts say it could be substantial. Powell was classified as one of the “big gets” for the candidates. (The panel listed Al Gore and Ted Kennedy in the same category.) At a time when it’s all about undecided voters, CNN’s David Gergen says Powell gave a voice to moderate Republicans. For instance, Powell talked about how turned off he was by the Republicans dwelling on Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. This might speak to moderates who are still undecided. While all of the CNN panelists agreed Powell could influence voters, Republican Strategist Leslie Sanchez points out that he's still only one person.
One person not pleased at all with Powell's endorsement is Stephen Colbert. Take a look:
What kind of impact (if any) do you think the Colin Powell endorsement will have?