The White House declined on Saturday to say whether President Clinton would offer Colin Powell a Cabinet position after reports that he had said he would be willing to serve in the administration.
Powell, the retired general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted Saturday in The Orlando Sentinel as saying he would consider joining the Cabinet if asked. “You always have to listen to your president,” Powell said.
Mary Ellen Glynn, a White House spokeswoman, said only, “The president is looking at a wide range of people and we need talented and energetic people to work in the administration.”
But several White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was unlikely Clinton would reach out to Powell, who has rejected such overtures in the past.
They noted that Powell, a Republican, had campaigned quite hard for Bob Dole and that he is considered a potential challenger to Vice President Al Gore in the next presidential race.
Powell has already rejected several opportunities to serve with Clinton. In his autobiography, “My American Journey” (Ballantine, 1996), Powell disclosed that he had been approached in 1992 through intermediaries and asked to consider running on the Democratic ticket with Clinton, and that later the Clinton White House approached him twice about becoming secretary of state.
Powell has been mentioned as a possible successor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher or Secretary of Defense William Perry.
Powell denied speculation this summer that Dole, the Republican presidential nominee, had offered to make him secretary of state if elected.
Powell was in Orlando on Friday to speak at an auto-repair convention.