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Speculation Circulates that Powell May Not Serve Second Term

Aired August 4, 2003 - 19:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In other news, a key member of the White House cabinet will reportedly step aside and not serve a second term if the president is re-elected.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has long told he planned to serve one term in the Bush administration.

A story in today's "Washington Post" reports Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage both told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice they would not serve for a second term. But the White House denies the conversation ever took place.

In a radio address today, Powell termed speculation of his not seeking a second term nonsense.

We're covering the story right now from two angles. CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel joins us, along with our Dana Bash, who is traveling with the president in Crawford, Texas.

Let's go to Andrea first. If there is one voice in the Bush administration, Andrea, the international community respected, it's Colin Powell. How do you think his departure is likely to affect issues like post-war Iraq and the Middle East peace process?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to begin with, Anderson, officials at the State Department, the White House or at the administration would say it is way too early to start playing a funeral dirge. They say there are still 17 months left in this administration and a lot can happen between now and then.

Remember how close President Clinton came to clinching a Mideast peace agreement and an agreement with North Korea during his final months in office.

That said, well, it's well known that Colin Powell is the only real moderate member of President Bush's national security team, the one who more often than not is urging a more multilateral approach to foreign policy. While that's made him a favorite of foreign governments, it's also well known that Powell voice is often drowned out, Anderson, by more powerful members of the Bush cabinet -- Anderson.

COOPER: Andrea, thanks.

Now let's go to Dana Bash.

Dana, what names are circulating, if any, to replace Colin Powell? And what are the political implications for President Bush?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

Well, the White House insists that there are no names, there is no list, because Secretary Powell has not told the White House that he is going to leave. They deny that.

They say that even if in January of 2005, if there is a second term and there is, of course, an election between now and then, and if Secretary Powell does step down, then certainly there are a wide number of people that could be chosen from.

Of course, one name out there that is in the public, though it's certainly not being said by anybody at the White House on the record, is the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. She is somebody very close to the president. She's actually here in Crawford right now.

But in terms of the political story here, Anderson, Andrea was talking about Secretary Powell's importance on the international stage. He's also important on the domestic stage.

Take a look at this CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. It's the last that CNN did on Secretary Powell. His favorable ratings are 84 percent. That is very, very high, even higher at most times than the president's is. And it is across the board, according to our pollster. It is among blacks, whites, men, women, rich, poor. He is certainly an asset domestically, politically, to the White House and they know that -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Dana Bash, thanks very much for the update.

Before we move on on this story, let's just try to put this thing in perspective. According to the U.S. State Department, 16 secretary of states have served since 1945. Of those, only four served more than one term.

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