Top Story: Top leaders make their pitch for "big citizenship."
The General: Powell's high profile summit role fuels political speculation
Transcript: Colin Powell On CNN's "Larry King Live"
The Goals: Nation's most prominent leaders descend on Philadelphia to promote volunteerism.
One Last Look:
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Bulletin Boards: Join the debate.
All Eyes On The General
It's a long time to 2000, but the speculation about Powell's future plans won't stop
PHILADELPHIA (AllPolitics, April 28) -- It doesn't matter that the next presidential race is still three years away.
It doesn't matter that retired Gen. Colin Powell still ducks every question about whether he wants to be president badly enough to run for the job.
At this week's "Presidents' Summit for America's Future," lots of eyes are on Powell and Vice President Al Gore, for reasons that have nothing to do with cleaning up vacant lots and everything to do with presidential politics in the year 2000.
A recent Zogby Group/New York Post survey found that Gore and Powell topped Democratic and Republican lists of favorite candidates for 2000. As correct as the two men are around each other, they could be ballot box rivals someday.
President Bill Clinton has made it clear he's ready to help Gore succeed him. But in the summit's opening ceremony this morning, Clinton also reached out warmly to Powell, as he thanked the people who have turned it into a reality. Powell is the summit's chairman.
"At our last meeting, when he was about to retire as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I asked him [Powell] if there was another mission which might bring him back into public life," Clinton said. "He said he wanted to help children who didn't have what they needed to succeed in life, and who needed the chance to serve America. Well, General, this may be your most important mission, and I want to thank you for re-enlisting."
Powell, who decided against a campaign for president or vice president last year, still brushes off speculation about politics.
Over the weekend, as he helped clean up a vacant lot, a woman who lives in the area asked Powell whether he was there for the community or for the politics.
"I don't have any politics," Powell replied. "I just want to see you all live in a nicer community."
He told NBC he was "very happy in my private life." Pressed whether that meant it was extremely unlikely he would run in 2000, Powell said, "It sounds fair to me."
If it brings results, the volunteerism summit could give Powell a nice boost toward whatever he decides to do next. But in his remarks today, Powell conceded the outcome is uncertain.
"For those who say, 'How far can you get?' the answer is: not sure yet. There are 15 million young Americans in need, and we should not be satisfied until we have touched the life of every one."
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