Mr. Megabank endorses Obama

Hugh McColl, the man who turned Charlotte, N.C., into a financial powerhouse, says the Democrat is the man for an economy in chaos.

Published October 6, 2008 11:38PM (EDT)

Citing Barack Obama's "intellect, fortitude and temperament," Hugh McColl, the North Carolina banker who built a small regional bank into the powerhouse currently known as Bank of America, endorsed the senator from Illinois for president in the Charlotte Observer today. (Thanks to Politico's Ben Smith for the tip.)

A former Marine, an avid hunter, and a legendarily rapacious businessman who was famous for buying banks and then instituting savage cost-cutting regimes that pummeled employee morale, "the Napoleon of banking" is not what you might consider a typical Obama supporter, although he is a registered Democrat. No single person represents the consolidation of mega-banking that roared across the U.S. in the 1980s and '90s better than McColl. His great-grandfather fought in the Civil War on the Confederate side, he comes from a long line of South Carolina bankers, and he was named by a business magazine as one of "corporate America's "10 toughest people for whom to work."

But Democrat though he may be, he also considers himself a fiscal conservative -- and if you want a clue why Obama's poll numbers continue to surge, even as the McCain campaign starts to unload a kitchen sink of negative "associations" on him, the answer may well lie in endorsements like his.

The economy is in a state of near chaos -- the volatility in the U.S. stock market on Monday, where share prices swung wildly by margins of hundreds of points over the span of a handful of minutes, is just the latest proof -- and Americans are deciding in droves that maybe the guy who thinks before he acts is a better choice than the guy who acts without thinking, or according to whatever roid-rage strategy his campaign managers dream up.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Globalization How The World Works U.s. Economy