- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Colin L. Powell’s endorsement is still the political gold standard, according to a Fox 5/The Washington Times/ Rasmussen Reports poll.

All told, 22 percent of those surveyed said the retired Army general and former secretary of state’s endorsement would be the most helpful, topping President Bush and former President Bill Clinton, who were each influential for 16 percent of those polled.

Mr. Powell’s appeal was bipartisan: 24 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents or third-party adherents said they would look to his endorsement.

Mr. Clinton was tops among Democrats, with a third looking to him, but only 3 percent of Republicans cared. Mr. Bush was the beacon for 38 percent of Republicans, but only 3 percent of Democrats said his endorsement would matter.

Former Vice President Al Gore and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush trailed well behind.

Mr. Powell has not said whom he is backing in this year’s presidential race, telling CNN earlier this month: “I will ultimately vote for the person I believe brings to the American people the kind of vision the American people want to see for the next four years — a vision that reaches out to the rest of the world, that starts to restore confidence in America, that starts to restore favorable ratings to America.”

Some who heard Mr. Powell’s remarks suspected he was leaning toward Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who is competing with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for the Democratic nomination.

The poll of 1,000 adults was taken Wednesday and Thursday and had a margin of error of three percentage points.

In other questions, the poll found more Americans want to scrap the fractured primary system than those who want to keep it. Forty-five percent said a single national primary would be an improvement, and 23 percent said it would be worse. The rest were not sure.

Among the critical independents, political dynasties were worrisome. More than half of the independents said they were concerned that just two families — the Clintons and Bushes — have controlled the White House over the past two decades.

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