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An undated photo of former Secretary of State Colin Powell at his home in Virginia. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state who died on Monday at age 84, opened up to journalist Bob Woodward about his life, legacy and recent health problems in one of his last interviews.

Of note: In a Washington Post article and audio shared Monday, Powell, who died from COVID-19 complications, responded to Woodward's concerns upon learning in their July interview of his Parkinson's disease and multiple myeloma cancer by saying: "Don't feel sorry for me, for God's sakes!"

  • "I'm [almost] 85 years old," the retired four-star general continued in the phone interview, also shared with CNN.
  • "I've got to have something. I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape."

The big picture: Woodward's interview explored Powell's trailblazing career, which saw him become the first Black national security adviser, in the Reagan administration, and first Black Joint Chiefs of Staff chair in the George H.W. Bush administration, during the first Gulf War against Iraq.

  • He notched another first as secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration during the second war against Iraq.
  • Woodward asked him about being described as "a reluctant warrior." "I am a reluctant warrior," Powell replied.
"I don't like wars. I don't want to be a warrior. But remember the other thing that is well-known about me and, that is, we go to a war, and I will do everything I can to beat the crap out of somebody and win it."
— Powell

On Afghanistan, Powell said in the interview, recorded before the Taliban takeover, that he didn't have a problem with President Biden's decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops from the country.

  • "[We] can't beat these guys," Powell said. "You're never going to win. Afghans are going to win.
  • "They have hundreds willing to fight and die for this country of theirs. That’s why I don’t have any problem with us getting out of there."

Former President Trump came in for criticism from Powell, who last year revealed he'd vote for Biden because he said the then-president was "dangerous for our democracy."

The bottom line: After all of his experiences and the people that he'd met, Powell didn't hesitate when Woodward asked him who was the greatest person he'd known.

  • "It's Alma Powell," he said of his wife of 58 years. "She put up with a lot. She took care of the kids when I was ... running around. And she was always there for me, and she'd tell me, 'That's not a good idea.' She was usually right."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Nov 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's Fed pick puts progressives on notice

Powell and Biden. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden's nomination of Jerome Powell for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve shows Biden's willingness to stare down progressives to get his cherished Build Back Better legislation through the Senate and into law.

Why it matters: Inflation is threatening Biden’s $2 trillion social spending and climate package, and Biden wants to save his political capital with moderates for that fight.

What to watch in the Fed's new era

President Biden with Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard at a press conference Monday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There's a new era at the Fed: Jerome Powell will keep the top job, Lael Brainard will step up as No. 2 — with more fresh faces set to come.

Why it matters: Prices are rising at the fastest pace in 30 years with millions still out of work. What Biden's Fed picks do may be felt by everyday Americans.

What's next for the Fed on climate change

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Getty Images photos: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP and Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The Federal Reserve is poised to increase its climate focus even as President Biden's nomination of Chairman Jerome Powell to a second term disappointed advocates of policies to tilt the economy away from fossil fuels.

Catch up fast: Biden on Monday announced Powell's nod and said he's tapping Lael Brainard — a Fed board member who's outspoken on climate — as vice chair.