State and local leaders react to passing of former Sec. of State Colin Powell

South Carolina News

FILE – In this Feb. 15, 2001 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on as President Bush addresses State Department employees at the State Department in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD/NEXSTAR) – State and local leaders are reacting to the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Powell’s family members said he was fully vaccinated and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center when he passed.

“Today our country mourns the lost of one of our finest statesman, General Colin L. Powell. Gen. Powell served our nation in the U.S. Army, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as the 65th U.S. Secretary of State,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Our country is grateful for General Powell’s leadership and for his service. Please join Peggy and me in praying for General Powell’s wife, Alma, and the rest of their family.”

Gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham called Gen. Powell “a trailblazer who broke barriers, led with conviction, and always did what he believed was best for his country.” He continued, saying Gen. Powell’s “mark on our nation’s history will not be forgotten.”

“I was surprised and saddened to hear of the passing of one of the great American leaders of any time, General Colin Powell. His service to our nation was legendary on so many fronts,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Sen. Graham went on to say, “General Powell cared deeply about the men and women of the State Department.  He is noted as a great military leader, justifiably so, but he also had a passion for diplomacy and the benefits of avoiding war by stabilizing troubled regions. The men and women of the foreign service never had a better champion. My prayers are with his family and many friends in the days ahead.”

“America has lost a true Statesman, Patriot and defender of Democracy. Gen. Colin Powell was an icon, trailblazer and extraordinary leader who was led by his convictions…not his politics,” said State Sen. Mia McLeod, who is running for South Carolina governor. “He inspired so many of us. Prayers for his family and our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace said, “My heart goes to the family of former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. As a statesman and trailblazer, he dedicated his life to the public service of our country. He was an inspiration and I am thankful for having witnessed his patriotism.”

“My heart goes to the family of former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. As a statesman and trailblazer, he dedicated his life to the public service of our country. He was an inspiration and I am thankful for having witnessed his patriotism,” wrote U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in an email. “While I am heartbroken to hear of his passing, I am grateful for his life of service that touched not only our nation, but every corner of the world. I salute his legacy and know that it will live on for generations to come.”

Powell was the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later U.S. secretary of state, for which he was unanimously confirmed in 2001.

As head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.

Powell was the first American official to publicly lay the blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and made a lightning trip to Pakistan in October 2001 to demand that then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf cooperate with the United States in going after the Afghanistan-based group, which also had a presence in Pakistan, where bin Laden was later killed.

He would go on to make a persuasive case before the U.N. Security Council in 2003 for U.S. military action against Iraq, claiming that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. The war was waged, Saddam was toppled and killed, Iraq was destabilized, but no such weapons were found and his reputation suffered a painful setback.

Powell consistently defended his support of the Iraq War. He cited faulty information claiming Hussein had secretly stashed away weapons of mass destruction. He told the U.N. that Iraq’s claims that it had not represented “a web of lies.”

A lifelong Republican, Powell had little use for former President Donald Trump, endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016 and speaking in support of Joe Biden at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

He left the Republican Party after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

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