WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he no longer views Colin Powell as a Republican.
Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Cheney was asked about a dispute between Powell - who was secretary of state in the Bush-Cheney administration - and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh over the role each plays in the GOP.
"My take on it was Colin had already left the party," Cheney said. "I didn't know he was still a Republican."
The former vice president noted that Powell endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama in last year's presidential race. "I assume that that's some indication of his loyalty and his interests," Cheney said.
Powell, in a speech last week, said "the Republican Party is in deep trouble" and said the GOP would be better off without Limbaugh, according to a report by the National Journal.
Limbaugh fired back on his program Wednesday, saying, "What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican Party."
In the interview Sunday, Cheney said he believes "there is room for moderates in the Republican Party."
But, he added, "I don't think the party ought to move dramatically to the left, for example, in order to try to redefine its base. We are what we are. We're Republicans. We have certain things we believe in. And maintaining our loyalty and commitment to those principles is vital to our success."
Conservative analyst and CNN contributor Bill Bennett said Sunday that he joked with Powell about the tiff with Limbaugh when they met at a memorial service Friday for former congressman and Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp.
"I said, 'Would you like me to be a mediator between you and Rush?' I said, 'I know you both, I like you both.' "
Bennett, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union with John King," said Limbaugh "is not the leader of the Republican Party" and that hand-wringing among members of the GOP has been overblown.
"The Republican Party is dead, it's never coming back, it's an endangered species," he said, mimicking articles about the party's struggles. "Read some
history books, you know? These things happen in American life. We are better
off than we were in '64, in '74, and in 1992."
Updated 7:11 p.m. with Bennett comments</strong