|Colin Powell, ex-secretary of state, voted for Obama in 2008.|
WASHINGTON — Former secretary of state Colin Powell ruled out a return to government service yesterday but said he still supports President Obama even though he hasn’t yet decided whom to vote for in 2012.
The highly respected retired general and moderate Republican made waves when he endorsed Obama, a Democrat, in 2008.
He told CNN’s “State of the Union’’ that he thought Obama’s presidency remains a work in progress and that tough issues such as the economy and unemployment need to be addressed. Powell said he hoped the president would tackle these matters in his State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Powell also lamented the lack of civility in political discourse and urged Americans to display tolerance in the wake of the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others.
“I think he’s got a way to go,’’ Powell said. “I mean, he hasn’t achieved all of his purposes, but he’s stabilized the economy’’ and taken on health care reform. “You know, we didn’t elect Superman. We elected a human being, Barack Obama.
“I think he’s working very hard on the issue of unemployment,’’ Powell said, “which I think is the major problem facing America right now.’’
Dismissing speculation that he might take a job in the Obama administration, possibly replacing Robert Gates as defense secretary, Powell said he is not interested in a government role. He said he wants to remain in private life, although he is happy to be an informal presidential adviser.