Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell will be asked to serve as a White House adviser if Barack Obama is elected president, the Democratic nominee said today.
Mr Powell, a retired four-star general and widely-respected Republican, crossed party lines to back Mr Obama yesterday as he described his rival John McCain’s campaign as petty and troubling.
The coveted endorsement will help Mr Obama tackle criticism that he is too inexperienced on foreign policy and military issues to become the 44th president of the United States.
Today, the 47-year-old Illinois senator said his high-profile supporter would have a key role in an Obama administration.
“He will have a role as one of my advisers,” Mr Obama told NBC’s 'Today' show.
“He’s already served in that function, even before he endorsed me.
“Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether that’s a good fit for him, is something we’d have to discuss.”
Mr Obama also said he “would love to have him at any stop” on the campaign trail and added that Mr Powell has an “open invitation” to join him.
But the 71-year-old African American, who advised Ronald Reagan and served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, is not expected to take the role for Mr Obama.
Speaking at a rally in Tampa, Florida, a key battleground state, Mr Obama added that Mr McCain was “out of touch and running out of time”.
The 72-year-old Arizona senator trails by more than five points in the latest average of national polls by RealClearPolitics.com.
But earlier, at a rally in St Charles, Missouri, Mr McCain repeated his claim that he and his aides had the Obama campaign “just where we want them” and that the national media “has written us off”, just like they had mistakenly done before, without waiting for the voters to have their say.
Yesterday, Mr Powell told NBC’s 'Meet The Press': “I think we need a transformational figure.
“I think we need a president who is a generational change and that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for senator John McCain.”
He criticised Mr McCain’s choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as a running mate, saying he did not believe “she’s ready to be president of the US, which is the job of the vice president”.
Mr Powell also called the McCain campaign’s decision to focus on Mr Obama’s ties to 1960s-era radical William Ayers “an unfortunate characterisation that isn’t accurate”.
“It goes too far,” he said.
His endorsement came just hours after Mr Obama’s campaign disclosed that it raised $150m (112.6m) last month – obliterating the old record of $66m (€49.57m) it had set only one month earlier.
Mr McCain seemed dismissive of Mr Powell’s endorsement, saying it was not a surprise, that the two shared mutual respect and were long-time friends.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she had not spoken to President George Bush about his reaction to Mr Powell’s endorsement, but added: “The president greatly respects General Powell, as we all do.”