Colin Powell : A position in Obama government

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Barack Obama said on Monday he would consider a formal government role for Colin Powell, the Republican former secretary of state who endorsed him at the weekend, if he is elected to the White House.

The Democratic presidential candidate said Mr Powell had already acted as his adviser, even before Sunday’s endorsement.

“Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether there’s something that’s a good fit for him, I think that he and I would have to discuss [it],” Mr Obama told NBC.

Mr Powell’s endorsement and the prospect of a role for him in an Obama administration could bolster the candidate’s credentials on foreign policy, an area in which many prospective voters say they regard him as weaker than John McCain, his Republican opponent.

Although the presidential contest is now heavily focused on the economy in the wake of this month’s financial crisis, foreign policy resurfaced yesterday after Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, predicted a major international crisis in the first six months of an Obama presidency.

“Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” Mr Biden told the audience at a fundraising event in Seattle, referring to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. “Watch, we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

He did not say where the challenge would come from but he said: “I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate.”

Endorsing Mr Obama at the weekend, Mr Powell said he was not looking for a position or assignment. However, he said he would have to consider any request from a future president. “I am in no way interested in returning to government. But I, of course, would sit and talk to any president who wishes to talk to me,” he added. Mr Obama campaigned in Florida on Monday, and was on Monday night sharing the platform with Hillary Clinton, his former rival for the Democratic nomination, for the first time since she endorsed him in June. Mr Obama focused on the economy, telling a rally in Tampa: “We must act quickly to end this housing crisis.”

Referring to a foreclosure freeze he proposed last week, Mr Obama said he would also introduce a tax write-down which he said was currently not granted to people who only owned one home.

Florida is one of a number of battleground states Mr Obama hopes to seize from the Republicans and in which most polls now give him a slight edge.

The McCain campaign on Monday confirmed he was lagging behind Mr Obama in campaign funds, with $47m (€35m, £28m) left in the bank at the start of October after spending $37m in September.

Mr McCain is no longer raising funds because he is participating in a public campaign funding system that his rival opted out of.

However, his campaign is supported by the Republican National Committee that has been spending its own funds, much of them on advertisements attacking the Democratic nominee and his past associations.

The Financial Times

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