Whither Colin Powell

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So what did the former Secretary of State tell the Democratic and Republican nominees-apparent in those private meetings that were first reported yesterday by National Journal’s Hotline On Call blog?

Colin Powell’s endorsement has been a matter of much speculation of late, with Bob Novak having gone so far as to predict that Powell “probably will enter Obama’s camp at a time of his own choosing.”

That time, apparently, won’t be soon. A source who familiar with the conversations tells me that Powell informed both John McCain (at a meeting in Arlington a couple of weeks ago) and Barack Obama (at a subsequent one in Powell’s Alexandria office) that he does not intend to endorse a candidate–if he does–until after the two parties hold their conventions in late summer. Powell also laid out the considerations that will determine that decision. He told the two that he wants to see who they pick as their running mates, and to get a better sense of the direction that the two candidates are going in the general election season. He also wants to have a clearer idea of where they stand on a number of issues, of which Iraq is only one.