Posted Aug. 15, 2008 – Secretary of State Colin Powell downplayed reports that he’d be standing next to Sen. Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention in Denver later this month.
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During the primaries, Powell had kind words for Obama, stoking speculation that the first African-American secretary of State might throw his support behind potentially the first African-American president. Such an endorsement would have been spectacular because it would have been vivid proof that Obama’s message of change was powerful enough to obliterate the walls between political parties.
Powell, despite having hitched his credibility to the Bush war machine, is still widely respected among Democrats as well as Republicans. But, at least for now, the Democrats will not acquire the crown jewel of endorsements.
"I do not have time to waste on Bill Kristol's musings,” Powell said of the conservative columnist’s report, citing unnamed sources, that Powell would endorse Obama and “may well give a speech” at the convention. “I am not going to the convention. I have made this clear."
But Powell isn’t the only high-profile African American who is likely to be a no-show in Denver on Aug. 25-28.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has spoken at every Democratic convention over the past two dozen years, could miss this year’s shindig. University of Maryland Political Scientist Dr. Ronald Walters, who served as an aide to Jackson, the presidential candidate, says that the Obama camp probably won’t ask the civil rights leader to speak at the convention.
"I think he should speak, but he won't," Walters said of Jackson, the civil rights activist who ran for president in 1984 and 1988.
Last month, Jackson was recorded making a crude remark about Obama, who said he accepted the minister’s quick, public apology. But some insiders say that Jackson ’s appearance would only serve as ammunition for those who want to cast the Democratic Party and its new rock-star standard-bearer in a negative light.