Returning to presidential politics, Powell condemned controversial remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of 20 years, as "deplorable" but complimented the Democratic candidate for his speech on race that followed in the aftermath.
"Rev. Wright is also somebody who has made enormous contributions in his community and has turned a lot of lives around," Powell said, "And so, I have to put that in context with these very offensive comments that he made, which I reject out of hand."
Powell added that he does not know Wright, and praised Obama's response.
"I think that Sen. Obama handled the issue well . . . he didn't look the other way. He didn't wait for the, for the, you know, for the storm to go over. He went on television, and I thought, gave a very, very thoughtful, direct speech. And he didn't abandon the minister who brought him closer to his faith," Powell told Sawyer.
Powell, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate in almost every election since he retired from military service and public life, expressed admiration for Obama.
"It was a good (speech)," Powell said. "I admired him for giving it. And I agreed with much of what he said."
powell also talked about iraq, saying it's straining american troops.
Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the administration of President George H.W. Bush and the first Gulf War, expressed concern over the burden an extended stay in Iraq would put on the troops and the country's military forces.
"It's going to be far more than the 100,000 that Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates was hoping for. It's going to be like 130,000 or 140,000. That is an extremely difficult burden for the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, to keep up," Powell told "Good Morning America."
Powell also expressed reservations about the two-front combat in which the United States finds itself: surging in Iraq while trying to maintain control in Afghanistan.
"We have responsibilities in Afghanistan. And in some ways, Afghanistan is more difficult than Iraq. You have the tribal problems. You had drug lords running around ... and al Qaeda and the Taliban are making a resurgence," Powell said.