May 24th, 2009
11:30 AM ET
5 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. BJD55

    We each have strengths; we each have weaknesses. These gentlemen have served our country and done the best they could.
    That was then, now is now. Let's individually take personal responsibility and rise above this babbling muck. The rest of the world is watching ... and, as usual, relying on the strength of USA to see how we solve some serious issues.

    May 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Proud DHS radical

    I wonder if Powell now feels he wasted his vote?

    May 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. mike

    limbaugh and hannity hate america

    May 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Marc

    Kim et al, you are a despicable breed. Regardless of what party or who he votes for, General Powell has done more for our country than your whole worthless family's have probably ever done. So GO to Hell.

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. scott MacKeracher

    Who cares about Rush L anyway after all he is nothing but a loud mouth drug addicted person that used sneak around get many perscriptions for Oxycontin or did everyone forget that.

    Powell is not perfect but I would trust his integrity befor Rush L or The slimy Dick Chenney.

    Scott Canada

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Not only are the republicans in the midst of mass self-destruction, they are determined to alienate any republican who is not an emotional time bomb. The republicans are not only the party of "no", they are the party of whine.
    .

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. Robert

    One can talk about Powell, Cheney , Palin if they are so inclined although I don't see why BUT Limbaugh WHO? This guy is a radio talk for money person who has no political education and little or concept of right and wrong.........Why is it the old saying applies to ALL Republicans .....................SHUT UP AND GO AWAY... you have had your eight years of screwups.

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. John

    Mr. Powell has far more integrity than Cheney and Limbaugh will ever have.

    He certainly has the right to vote for whomever he wishes.

    I watched him on television last fall when he announced he was voting for Obama. He came up with about fifteen really solid reasons for why he had made his decision and he defended himself solidly.

    It seems that lately Cheney is trying to have the last word on everything....perhaps he's still trying to save the reputation of an administration that will probably go down as the worst in our lifetime.

    And I'm a lifelong Republican too...

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Dwayne

    What a joke. Powell voted for Barack Obama because of his color. Powell said Obama was more qualified to be president. Another joke. Powell voted for Obama, a man that was only a community organizer, and a junior senator, Wow, what great qualifications Colin Powell.

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Jack

    The Republican Party is lost to the radical right. Powell should give it up and join the living.

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Big Woz

    It's funny, because I thought the weak kneed losers were John McCain and Sarah Palin. Or G-Dub for creating this mess. Enjoy the next 8 years my silly republican friends!

    OBAMARAMA!

    May 24, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. Dave in Massachusetts

    Colin Powell is one of the best voices in the Republican party. I certainly would like to hear more from him and others like him. I have however heard quite enough from Cheney and Limbaugh. Their brand of fiery rhetoric that motivates the base is very polarizing during a time when this country needs to learn how to work together. I wish I could put them on "ignore".

    May 24, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. b nice

    @Powell the Turncoat
    You must be reading the National Enquirer or reading something that is fiction. Powell endorsed Obama because he was qualified to lead this country. McCain was not becaue his decision making process would not help this country. You are unpatriotic for making such a comment and need to seek some education by reading more news or go back to school. As an intelligent African American, I don't care if you are white or black, Democrat or Republican. So get your facts straight son!

    May 24, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Wendy Showell

    Yes, because weak kneed losers often make General or, for that matter, Secretary of State. Refusing to be a sheep, following blindly where he's led, is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of a man who's strong enough to stand up against the antiquated status quo and do so publicly. Mr. Limbaugh is everything that is wrong with the GOP. He's quite happy being part of the problem and obviously disinterested in having anything to do with the solution. And the country will move forward without him.

    May 24, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. dtb

    I used to be a republican and am now a democrat. I like things from both parties and like Powell, I vote for the best man for the job in every office, in every election. If the republican party wants to know what's wrong with itself, see the two posts above (kim and ptt) who are more concerned with what someone's *labelled* than wondering what the republicans could/should do to improve their party.

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. No explanations

    General Powell, You do not owe a drug addict, racist, jerk an explanation or the time of day. You have served your country on many battlefields when the drug addict was getting furloughs for a pimple on his fat behind. You represented the U.S. well as Secretary of State while the joker had his maid purchasing drugs for him. He never served but has the nerve to question others patriotism. Don't waste your breath on the joker. Now as far as the Republican party – when you lay with flies....

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Mike

    Could it be possible for someone to believe in the fundamental principles of the Republican Party, those of small government, controlled spending, strong military and see that the current Republican Party has failed in all of those things? If that was the case, would that person support the Republican Party in name only?

    – A Moderate thinking out loud.

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Robert

    P.S. the Republican party may want to make sure everyone leaves Powell alone afterall this guy quit the BUSH whitehouse and don't think for a minute he didn't have a darn good reason called BUSH...The party would be history if he told all.

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Teo Guam

    As a Democrat, I am glad that Rush Limbaugh has become the voice of the Republican Party. Preach on Brother Limbaugh. Keep it coming.

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    well, what do you expect from a weak party like the "Republican". That what make us weaker and weaker by insulting each other rather than reaching out . Keep up the downgrading job!!!

    May 24, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Bill/CA

    Powell represents what the Republican Party will need to be if they want any shot at taking back Congress in the next 15-20 years – inclusive, reasonable, and can appeal to the public as such. Rush and Cheney have attacked Powell because they represent the Republican Party as it currently stands – narrow-minded, angry, and representing the fringe values of the right wing. This is the GOP that got pounded in November and will continue to get pounded unless they listen to sensible people like Powell and even to a lessor degree Steele. But then again, I doubt extreme conservatives like Rush and Cheney want to be taking orders from black people.

    May 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Midwest

    Like the General, I have voted for whomever was the best qualified regardless of Party. We are too divided as it is to keep up this word play of insults about party choices. The General I am sure has a greater wealth of experience and knowledge far beyond what a title of Republican or Democrat could convey.

    May 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Tommy

    The Republican Party is dead. Shed the "god" stuff and become more fiscal focused and focus on creating competant leadership. Enough, is enough. You voted "w" in twice and ruined the party. Cheney is just defending a failed administration.. Yes , he kept the country safe for eight years...oh,..wait..except for the biggest terrorist attack of all ..911..

    May 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. Ryan Blanco

    Awesome. Keep attacking everyone who doesn't agree with you 100%. I am liberal, but I actually think this is bad for the country. I don't like the two party system, but if Republicans continue to implode, we may be facing a one party system.

    The funny part is that liberals were criticized for our vitriol toward Joe Lieberman. Now conservatives are doing the exact same thing.

    May 24, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. John Jones

    The Republican party would be smart to rally behind Colin Powell but I suspect they'll just keep bickering and becoming more divisive, out of touch and insignificant.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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