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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was mourned throughout the political world Monday after it was announced he died from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 84.
Though he served in four Republican administrations, Powell spent the later years of his life endorsing Democrats and left the GOP after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The tributes to him were bipartisan.
“Colin Powell was the epitome of a soldier-statesman. Agree with him or not, he was a patriot committed to public service and doing his very best to advance U.S. interests. He left an indelible mark on the U.S. Military and this nation. May his memory be a blessing,” tweeted Alexander Vindman, the former director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council who testified in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
Stacey Abrams, a Democratic party star, wrote, “Godspeed to Secretary Colin Powell who led with integrity, admitted fallibility and defended democracy. Deepest condolences to his loved ones and friends.”
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney added, “Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character. A statesmen & trailblazer, devoted to America and the cause of liberty, Colin Powell’s legacy of service & honor will long inspire. Ann & I offer our love & sincere condolences to Alma and his family.”
While some called Powell’s death “absolutely tragic,” others were sure to point out his role in leading the U.S. into the Iraq War, which Powell himself once called a “blot” on his record.
“Whatever else Colin Powell achieved in life, and it was a lot, he was the only man who could have stopped the Iraq War and instead he chose to swallow his doubts about the disaster he knew it would be and sell the invasion,” noted reporter Spencer Ackerman, who wrote a book about post-9/11 America and that time period’s impact on current politics and culture.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” said a Monday statement from Powell’s family, who added he was fully vaccinated and thanked the staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for treating him. He is survived by a wife and three children.
Powell’s career was full of firsts and he served in four Republican administrations. He started his career on combat duty in Vietnam, then became the first Black national security adviser at the end of former President Ronald Reagan’s administration. He was also the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in former President George H.W. Bush’s administration. As secretary of state under former President George W. Bush, he brought faulty intelligence to the United States in his advocacy for the Iraq War, which stalled his political momentum.