Reporter: Sir, what part did McCain's negativity play in your decision, the negative tone of the campaign?
Powell: It troubled me. We have two wars. We have economic problems. We have health problems. We have education problems. We have infrastructure problems. We have problems around the world with our allies. So those are the problems the American people wanted to hear about, not about Mr. Ayers, not about who's a Muslim or who's not a Muslim. Those kinds of images going out on Al-Jazeera are killing us around the world.
And we have got to say to the world, it doesn't make any difference who you are or what you are, if you're an American, you're an American. And this business, for example, of the congressman from Minnesota who's going around saying, "Let's examine all congressmen to see who is pro-America or not pro-America" -- we have got to stop this kind of nonsense, pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity. And so, that really was driving me.
And to focus on people like Mr. Ayers and these trivial issues, for the purpose of suggesting that somehow Mr. Obama would have some kind of terrorist inclinations, I thought that was over the top. It was beyond just good political fighting back and forth. I think it went beyond. And to sort of throw in this little Muslim connection, you know, "He's a Muslim and, my goodness, he's a terrorist" -- it was taking root. And we can't judge our people and we can't hold our elections on that kind of basis.
So, yes, that kind of negativity troubled me, And the constant shifting of the argument. I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis, the [McCain] campaign said, "We're going to go negative," and they announced it, "We're going to go negative and attack [Obama's] character through Bill Ayers." Now I guess the message this week is, "We're going to call him a socialist, Mr. Obama is now a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have."
Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who paid them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there is nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that that makes you a socialist, I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate.
I don't want my taxes raised. I don't want anybody else's taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don't want to have a $12 trillion national debt, and I don't want to see an annual deficit that's over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So, how do we deal with all of this?