Video below. For my part, I find it quite powerful: Powell talks fluidly and with surprising strength of feeling for over five minutes, pausing to tell the story of a Muslim-American who died in the Iraq War to illustrate the inappropriateness of the 'smear' that Obama is a Muslim. Getting that message across may be the most valuable task Powell performed today, and it carries more weight coming from him than it would from the mouth of any Democrat.
What about its impact on the election? In general, endorsements do not matter a great deal, but Colin Powell is Colin Powell: a widely-respected Republican with a reputation (whether deserved or otherwise) for moderation and good judgement. He is the sort of African-American that even the mildly prejudiced admire, and Barack Obama benefits a great deal from that association.
Perhaps the most important benefit Obama derives from this endorsement is simply the chance to dominate the news for several days. With just over a fortnight left on the clock, every day that McCain fails to find the game-changer he needs further damages his chances.
Get our weekly email