The Corner

What If Colin Powell Ran for President in 1996?

Colin Powell on December 9, 2001. (Sergei Karpukhin CVI/Reuters)

In Jim Geraghty’s excellent tribute to the life and career of Colin Powell, he teases one of the great counterfactuals in modern political history: What if Powell decided to run for president in 1996? I have some thoughts.

Powell formally announced he was not going to run in November 1995. Just that fall, polls showed Bill Clinton easily beating Bob Dole, but losing to Powell by 15 points. When Powell made his announcement, “At the West Wing of the White House, aides watched the news conference with smiles and sighs of relief,” according to a Baltimore Sun news report at the

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