The Note: 'Still Standing'


Throw this into the mix -- how big would this endorsement be? "I'm looking at all three candidates," former secretary of state Colin Powell told ABC's Diane Sawyer, in an interview broadcast Thursday on "Good Morning America." "I know them all very, very well. I consider myself a friend of each and every one of them. And I have not decided who I will vote for yet."

And yet -- only one candidate got Powell's effusive praise. He talked up Obama's management of his campaign -- and for how he managed the Wright affair: "I think that Sen. Obama handled the issue well," he told Sawyer. "He didn't look the other way. He didn't wait for the, for the, you know, for the storm to go over. He went on television, and I thought, gave a very, very thoughtful, direct speech. And he didn't abandon the minister who brought him closer to his faith."

And this on whether Sen. John McCain's plan for a sustained troop presence in Iraq is realistic: "I'll tell you what they're all going to face -- whichever one of them becomes president on Jan. 21 of 2009 -- they will face a military force, a United States military force, that cannot sustain, continue to sustain, 140,000 people deployed in Iraq, and the 20 [to] 25,000 people we have deployed in Afghanistan, and our other deployments."

That may get Powell off of McCain's short list. And this may get McCain off of Powell's short list: "Republican Sen. John McCain refused Wednesday to rule out a pre-emptive war against another country, although he said one would be very unlikely," the AP's Libby Quaid reports.

Some possible back-story (none of which Powell is happy about), in The New York Times: "One component of the fractious Republican Party foreign policy establishment -- the so-called pragmatists, some of whom have come to view the Iraq war or its execution as a mistake -- is expressing concern that Mr. McCain might be coming under increased influence from a competing camp, the neoconservatives, whose thinking dominated President Bush's first term and played a pivotal role in building the case for war," the Times' Elisabeth Bumiller and Larry Rohter report.

"One of the chief concerns of the pragmatists is that Mr. McCain is susceptible to influence from the neoconservatives because he is not as fully formed on foreign policy as his campaign advisers say he is, and that while he speaks authoritatively, he operates too much off the cuff and has not done the deeper homework required of a presidential candidate," Bumiller and Rohter write.

McCain makes news Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., (hardly a regular stop on the GOP circuit) with his new plan for homeowners, including a restructured mortgage plan.

And, perhaps more significantly, there's this, per advance excerpts of his speech: "I am also calling for an immediate DOJ task force to aggressively investigate potential criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage lending and securitization industry. If there were individuals or firms that defrauded innocent homeowners or forged loan application documents, then the punishments of the market are not enough, and they must answer for their conduct in a court of law."

McCain hits "The View" Thursday morning, and has another important political stop on tap: He's set to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-N.Y., in Brooklyn, Maggie Haberman reports in the New York Post.

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