'I'm still a Republican,' Powell says
January 13th, 2013
01:20 PM ET
2 years ago

'I'm still a Republican,' Powell says

(CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he's still a member of the Republican Party, despite voting for President Barack Obama in the last two elections and being very critical of the GOP of late.

"I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem - and I'm still a Republican," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But in recent years there's been a significant shift to the right, and we've seen what that shift has produced: two losing presidential campaigns."

Powell said the key for the GOP is to recognize that the country is changing and the party needs to change along with it.

"I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself, and understand that the country is changing demographically. And if the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they're going to be in trouble," Powell said.

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tallied only about a quarter of the Asian-American and Latino-American votes in the 2012 election. He did even worse among African-Americans, where Obama received over 90% of the vote, according to CNN exit polls from Election Day.

Powell said the Republican disconnect with minorities runs deep and encompasses everything from problems with immigration reform to tax rates among lower-income people. But he also suggested elements of racism may be in play.

"There's also a dark vein of intolerance in some part of the party. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is, they still sort of look down on minorities," Powell said.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Mississippi, responded to Powell's comments later in the show and agreed Republicans have to do better among minorities.

"We have to improve our standing among all of those. The good thing is, with the right kind of policies and the right kind of effort, we will do that. Remember, George W. Bush, the last Republican (president), got 44% of the Hispanic vote - so it's not like there's some 1,000-year history here," Barbour said.

Going forward, Powell said, Republicans have to think not just about who their next presidential candidate is going to be, but also about what the whole party stands for. For the GOP, Powell said, it's time to stop moving so far to the right and come back toward the middle.

"I'm a moderate, but I'm still a Republican. That's how I was raised, and until I voted for Obama twice, I had voted for seven straight Republicans for president," Powell said.


Filed under: Colin Powell • Republicans
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. walleye46

    YES he is still a Republican – but one with a BRAIN.

    January 13, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Rev. JTP

    "Moderate" is a four-letter word for today's Tea-Republicans.

    January 13, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. jcmo24

    Powell just come out of the closet and admit you have jumped ship and are now a Democrat. No republican could vote twice for a candidate that has the extreme views that Obama has.

    January 13, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Texas Bob

    If the GOP had more people like this man I would change parties. He is honest and tells it like it is, not anywhere near the GOP agenda!

    January 13, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Evergreen

    There is a part of the republican party that thinks if you are minority you can't love this country. Untrue. We love this country for what it stands for and inspite of the injustice that has occured during certain times in this country's history.

    January 13, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. AaronT3

    Let's really mix things up and put Elizabeth Warren President), and Colin Powell (Vice President) on the same ticket for 2016. As I am thoroughly disillusioned by these EXTREME right wingers like Rush and Fox News, it would be good to have a "decent" Republican in office. I think these two could work together, respect each others views and make America even better.

    January 13, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Yonni

    I admire General Colin Powell for his tolerance of the current GOP. If I were him it would have been difficult for me to associate myself with this insane group of people. However, it is must that we all tolerate the current GOP but we should not accept their pure ideology and hateful message primarily lead by the extreme right fringe group.

    January 13, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    How funny, Powell's a Republican and i'm a leprechaun

    January 13, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. Ken from FL

    Yeah, right, General, and I'm the Wizard of Oz. Powell's move to the dark side (and, no, that's not a racial slur, so don't get your knickers in a bunch, you libs) is now complete. Yeah, obviously the GOP looks down on minorities: that's why we have the first black Republican Senator from SC since reconstruction, and why one of my senators is a Cuban-American. It's the Dems who insist on keeping the African Americans and Hispanics in plantation servitude (remember Harry Reid's comment? Obama doesn't sound like a black man). Yeah, we GOPers are clearly the evil ones.

    January 13, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. jpeagle21

    If you are "still a republican", you don't actively campaign for and support the democratic opponent. This guy is no more a republican than Charlie Crist.

    January 13, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. ZQ

    We still forgive you, Colin.

    January 13, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Disgruntled

    The one and only Republican I would ever consider voting for. He's uniquely qualified to be President, given his background. Unfortunately, he chooses not to run.

    January 13, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. sbree

    why still republican? he seems like an intelligent, rational adult

    January 13, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. freya

    Yes Sir but you are better than the Republicans of today. THEY DON'T DESERVE YOU.

    January 13, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Larry L

    General Powell... you voted twice for President Obama and the Republican Party has drifted so far to the right they no longer represent your values... At what point should you just consider yourself an "independent"?

    January 13, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    He was NEVER a real Republican. He was a Dem socialist all along.

    January 13, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Mark

    I would love to see the pre-1960s republican party again. I want to see the Republican party that was around during the time of Booker T. Washington. I want to see a republican party that embraces all ethnicities (not demonize them). I want to see a republican party that promotes values of thrift and hard work among all people. i want to see a republican party stand advocates for and defends the poor. I want to see a republican party that supports those in need instead of imprison/convict them.

    During the 1960's the republican party got hijacked by KKK ideologues, then later by corporate interest, religious fanatics and lobbiests. Electoral reform is a key ingredient to the return of the pre-1960s republican party.

    Liberals got it wrong, but regrettably the republicans have it even more wrong.

    Colin Powell is one of the few true republicans left in his party.

    January 13, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. donte

    So he votes republican unless a black man is running as a democrat. How is that not racism?

    January 13, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Name

    Powell is a joke. He either voted for Obama because he is now a democrat or just because Obama is black. Either way he us lying to the american people and should just keep his mouth shut.

    January 13, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Michael

    Said by the man who should be running the country

    January 13, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Barbara Esposito

    IWith all due respect to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, I accept his voting for Obama in the first election yet still claim his Republican membership. However, voting for Obama the second term denies him that . Remember the adage: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Instead of complaining about what is wrong with the Republican Party, why has he not contributed to help lead and heal the Party? Perhaps he has taken his lead from the President himself to divide the party, commenting on racism (a two sided sword, by the way) and intolerance. There are many of us who will not give up because the most treasured beliefs of individual responsibily, a strong national defense, small government, and low taxes are deeply etched into our hearts and psyche.

    January 13, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Tony

    Why? Every time we hear from General Powell, it is to either endorse the Democratic candidate or tell the world how the Republican Party is not right. It is okay to disagree with your party. But, at least tell the things you agree with along with the things you disagree with.

    January 13, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Yes sir,you are still a republican and our party need more men and woman like you. For the Gop,to cast you as a trader never made since to me. and that kind of thinking is the reason why we lost the white house.we need cultural diversity in the Gop(not to be confused with multiculturism or affirmative action ) that will be the foundation of our social and economic competitiveness.one of the biggest hurdles to an inclusive GOP party is that many conservatives have a centrist concept of "AMERICAN" conduct and tend not to accept diverse cultural nuances. they resist appealing to the uniqueness of population sub-groups.therefore they are often perceived as racist and indifferent.

    January 13, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. MDNA = MaDge Not Applicable!

    I agree with all that say he is NOT a 2013 Republican.

    Powell is sane, reasonable, logical, tolerant, empathetic, critical thinking, caring and Christian!

    Definitely NOT a 21st century Republican!

    January 13, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. Harry Bradford

    I find it amusing that so many Americans think that the second amendment will help them to resist the government, but say nothing when the government levies taxes on them to grow the miltary and thus ensure that the little guy will always be outgunned (or outbombed) by the government.

    January 13, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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