Image: Powell
Reuters file
Secretary of State Colin Powell
updated 12/17/2003 1:04:07 PM ET 2003-12-17T18:04:07

Secretary of State Colin Powell resumed work from the hospital after successful surgery for prostate cancer, calling his deputy three times early Tuesday morning.

“I’d say he’s full of spit and vinegar this morning,” Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on NBC television’s “Today Show” when asked how Powell was doing. “He’s already called me twice before 7 o’clock. So I think that’s an indication he’s doing fine.”

Armitage declined to go into detail, except to say that the calls concerned business.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the third call to Armitage took place just before the daily meeting of senior State Department officials.

He said Powell was “up and looking after business even while hospitalized.”

No contact with Bush yet
At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said he did not believe President Bush had spoken to Powell since the surgery Monday.

“We are pleased everything went well and we hope he will have a very speedy recovery and be back to work as soon as possible,” he said.

Boucher said Powell was expected to leave Walter Reed Medical Center “in a couple of days” and spend time at home convalescing before returning to work early in 2004.

The spokesman said Armitage had spoken by telephone to half a dozen foreign ministers, many of them expressing their wishes for a speedy recovery for Powell.

Boucher said Armitage was not acting secretary of state. He said at the beginning of the Bush administration Powell and Armitage, who have known each other for years, agreed that Armitage could “act on any matters with the purview of the secretary if the secretary was not available” either for travel or in the case of hospitalization.

He said different administrations have handled such situations differently with some formally designating an acting secretary but this was not the case with Powell and Armitage.

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