May 24th, 2009
11:30 AM ET
6 years ago

Powell: 'I am still a Republican'

Powell and Limbaugh have been engaged in a war of words over the GOP's future.
Powell and Limbaugh have been engaged in a war of words over the GOP's future.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell struck back Sunday at critics of his decision to support Barack Obama's presidential candidacy last year.

Calling for his divided party to widen its ranks, Powell declared, "I am still a Republican."

In an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Powell responded to attacks from former Vice President Dick Cheney and talk show host Rush Limbaugh, saying they are "not members of the membership committee of the Republican Party."

"Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican", he said. "I would like to point out that in the course of my 50 years of voting for presidents, I have voted for the person I thought was best qualified at that time to lead the nation. Last year, I thought it was President Barack Obama. For the previous 20 years, I voted solidly for Republican candidates."

Earlier this month on the same program, Cheney was asked about a dispute between Limbaugh and Powell over the role each plays in the GOP. "My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican," Cheney responded.

Powell said Sunday that he didn't want to trade insults with Limbaugh, but that he thought it was "unfortunate" Limbaugh framed his support of Obama along racial lines.

Limbaugh, on his radio program, argued that Powell supported Obama "solely based on race."

Discussing divisions over the direction of the party in the wake of its losses in the 2006 midterm elections and 2008 presidential election, Powell said Sunday the party should expand its base.

"I have always felt that the Republican Party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years and I believe that we need a strong Republican Party that is not just anchored in the base but has built on the base to include more individuals. And if we don't do that, if we don't reach out more, the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base," he told "Face the Nation."

Powell added, "Let's debate the future of the party and let all segments in… What we have to do is debate and define who we are and what we are, and not just listen to dictates that come down from the right wing of the party."


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soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. John/TN

    Powell is a better man than Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gingrich and Limbaugh combined.

    When did New Gingrich crawl out from under his rock?

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. kts

    How many times did Cheyney weasle out of serving in the Military. 5 or 6.
    "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." he said in 1989.
    Typical of the gutless cowards in Congress ( oddly enough mostly Republican) who are happy to send other people, sons, fathers, mothers and daughters, to fight a needless war, but havent the balls to go themselves or send their own children.
    Hannity, Limbaugh the list goes on. Gutless flag waving cowards

    They make me want to throw up

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Georgia

    Where was Dick from Louisiana over the last 8 years?? Does he think that Bush & Cheney (with Rush as Cheerleader) did a great job with Katrina?? This guy must have been living in one of those trailers ridden with formaldahyde pickling his brain for too long. "Heck of a job Brownie". He definitely wouldn't have a clue to what a great president is!

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. Freddie

    I imagine the anti-Obama crowd trying a little bit harder to refrain from the attacks and just let Barack do his job. However, I also imagine a cure for cancer. Perhaps in a year or so, some intelligent debate will be welcomed. Right now, I'd like to just support the leader. The name calling and jabbing don't accomplish anything except sustain the void between the two major parties. Yes, I voted for Obama.

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Peter

    I find it interesting that most people who criticize Colin Powell never saw the inside of a uniform. To call him a " weak kneed loser" is ludicrous. I was in the Army and I WOULD follow Powell.

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. Party-less

    Regardless of what you say your party is, you should vote your conscience. It is no one's business, no matter how high level you are, who you vote for. Colin Powell's decision to support Barak Obama should be a wake up call to so called Republicans. Your party needs a make over and neither Rush nor Dick are going to give them that.

    May 24, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. robG N.C.

    why attack Powell for doing what he thought was right? during this election the republican party came off as a bunch of racists who claim to own the keys to heaven and patriotism. no one party can fix this country, we all have to work together and Rush Limbaugh is not the chosen one. Powell is right u need to expand your base and not come off so self righteous and racist at the same time. believe it or not your party is not superior to anyone or anything and u don't know everything.

    May 24, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. w.l. jones

    Some people have forgotten the frase and officer and a gentleman and General Powell fitted both like a glove on a hand. Once an officer always an officer. Way to go Sir.

    May 24, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Traveler13

    Cheney got 5 deferments not to go to Vietnam and serve his country. Limbaugh never joined the military. Hannity never joined the military. Michael Medved joined the military. Mike Gallagher never joined the military. Countless other Right-Wing-Republicans-talkshow hosts never joined the military. Yet these are the same cowards who call everyone else unpatriotic who do not agree with them.

    My father fought in WWII. My older brothers & cousins fought in Vietnam. I fought in Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan. None of us are Republican. I am now an officer in the Nationa Guard with 28 total years. Yet according to the Right-Wing I am unpatriotic because I disagree with their views. I am Black, 2 bachelor degrees and 1 master degrees, with numerous certificates of computer education, a small business owner and I live upper-middle class lifestyle.

    May 24, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Operation Crush Rush

    We have Limbaughs sponsors on the run.Keep those calls and e mails going into Rush also,remember,he wants to hear from all Americans,he just hates eighty-five percent of us.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Heather

    A man who stands up for what and who he truly believes is best for our country – and unafraid of public criticism from his own party – is certainly NOT a coward. I appreciate Colin Powel and the example he sets in politics.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. RV

    The Republicans got just what they deserved and the Dems got theirs.
    And thank goodness the American people will now have theirs.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Tasha, Houston, TX

    Just let Cheney keeping talking. He is so full of himself, he is going to eventually confess to his crimes and hopefully, the media will be all over it. So, just let him keep making speeches and going on tv. People who can't shut up, always bust themselves in their own lie.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Kevin

    It is interesting that so many Republicans truly believe that Powell supported Obama simply because of race. Just as so many republicans truly believe there is a hidden agenda behind global warming and health care reform. The idea that doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing is absolutely foreign to these people. Ditto heads, listen up: just because YOU cast votes based on race doesn't mean that everyone else does. Just because YOU make decisions based purely on selfish reasons doesn't mean that everyone else does. Sometimes I don't think you will ever get it.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. John

    Notice how the headline the appears in the main page of cnn.com reads "Cheney is Misinformed – Powell Says). And then the headline in this article says "Powell: I am still a Republican." This is typical of CNN since CNN is primarily anti-Republican. Who ever the architect of the headline is, it is clear that his goal was to mislead viewers of CNN into thinking that Cheney was wrong on national security, but it is really regarding party affiliation. You will be all glad to hear that HyperMedia Productions in Berkley, CA is producing a documentary on the bias that you see on CNN. It is expected to come out in two months.

    May 24, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Michael

    A life-long Democrat, I, too, would have voted for Gen Powell had he run for president. As for Dicky and Rush Hairball, they need to go quickly and quietly into the sunset.

    May 24, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Robert

    The party of "big ideas" has become a haven for small-mindedness. The GOP can expect a future rife with heavy losses as long as imbeciles like Limbaugh and co. are at the helm.

    May 24, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Cheney is a dick

    Is there any wonder why the neocon tent is getting smaller? Lardbaugh and Cheney are the main act! Wow, only an idiot would heed to these two morons! I, for one, I am proud to say that I am NOT a member of the republican party!

    May 24, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. David

    There may not be enough citizens that agree with Limbaugh to elect a President any more but there are plenty enough to continue to make him a very very wealthy man. Rush is saying the things he needs to say to keep this growing smaller group happy and keep himself rich. Cheney is already rich but I'm sure he wont mind the bucks he gets from speaking engagements around the country while at the same time trying to somehow make the worst administration in a lifetime (including NIxon) seem less the failure that it was.

    May 24, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. truth teller

    This is United States Of America, every one is at liberty to pick who ever they like. He picked Obama because in his opinion he was the best choice than John McCain and super fly Palin. It's actually embarrassing for Republicans that so many voted for Obama. Mr Cheney & Rush Limbaugh what a perfect example of Rebublicans every word from their mouth is sarcastic & hurtful towards every one. I think they are bunch of ole grumpy men, who need to chill out & let present administration work their majic.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Marydoe

    It seems to me that those who continue to criticize Powell don't have much to stand on. Powell seems to be a moderate - what's wrong with that? With more and more people calling themselves "independents" in this country instead of demo or repubs, I think he has a lot of company. Too many people, to the left & right, seem to think they have a lock on the truth and demand "loyalty" that's out of bounds with the sort of "independent nature" that so many people relate to here in the good old USA.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Daren

    Wow, I didn't realize how few people in world lacked independent thought. To align and label yourself as democrat or republican in this time when we have so many problems to resolve is a path in the wrong direction.

    We need to work together to strengthen the country. In the coming years things will only become more difficult as countries become stronger economically to the point of rivaling the US.

    We need a president to concentrate on domestic affairs and work with our politicians to improve the country.

    Like or dislike the President he need our support. If our politicians are not will to work with our President then they should be remove via election.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. David

    Wow. Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney are more patriotic than Collon Powell? The problem with Republicans is that they keep eating their own. All the Republicans with actual moral standards (and not the phoney ones of Rush Limbaugh the drug addled sex tourist who didn't even serve in the military and who has been married like 4 times) are being kicled out. The "true conservatives" need to understand that they will never win a national election based on their extremist ideas. It's amazing none of them seem bright enough to realize that. Powell is a true American hero and patriot and a man of honor. I would vote for him regardless of party affiiation.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. k johnson

    It's absolutely amazing to me that the Republican party can even begin to get any votes from the lower and middle classes in this country. They are all about the rich getting richer and continually beating down working men & women for higher profits for big companies. OK, there is something to be said about conservatism as it relates to religion, smaller government and so on. As a registered Democrat I support Colin Powell and his position 100%. Cheney is way out in left field and I would never give Limpballs the satisfaction of listening to one minute of his radio show. If the Republican party doesn't move a little more to the center and support working people who drive the economy in this country, build what we have left to build in our factories and on our construction sites they will continue to fail the majority of hard working Americans.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Chad

    I served in the First Gulf War and have the greatest respect for General Powell. When I see a pathetic coward like Rush Limbaugh make petty personal attacks against a man who has spent his life in service to this country, I almost lose my lunch. Its ironic that the only reason a Rush Limbaugh has the environment in which to flourish and the freedom to speak is because of the sacrifice of men he now denounces.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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