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

Powell: 'I am still a Republican'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Kim Hewson

    Powell is a RINO (Repub in name only). He is a weak kneed loser whose time has run out. His support for Obama betrayed him.

    May 24, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Powell the Turncoat

    Powell is an idiot. He endorsed Obama and cried when he won. He is a turncoat and a Democrat all the way.

    May 24, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Dave

    For many years nobody knew what party if any Powell was a memeber of, especially when the media was wondering if he would ever run for president just a few years ago...

    How times change!

    May 24, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Richard L

    Colin Powell is one of the few Republicans who won't grovel at the feet of Limbaugh and have to look ridiculous tomorrow by apologizing. He is a man of integrity. Limbaugh could learn a lot from him.

    May 24, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    The fact of the matter is Colin Powel has NEVER been a republican. He calls himself a republican only because there was already too much black-leadership competition in the democratic party. He joined the GOP in the 1990's only because he did not want to fight with Jackson and Sharpton for leadership status. (He would have lost.)

    The republican party MADE Colin Powell and when it needed him the most, he tucked his tail between his legs and ran to the other side. Now he's trying to hedge his bets. He's a political prostitute. Whichever party can deliver him the most glory at any one time is the one he sides with. He may have been a hero in Vietnam, but in politics, he's a coward.

    May 24, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. Ryan Wing

    Limbaugh and Cheney disgust me.

    May 24, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Independant Voter

    Newt Gingrich actually said it very well this morning on Meet the Press (yes, I realize it's a little weird that Gingrich had it right)
    He declared that the idea of a small, narrowly focused Republican party is the worst possible idea. It would assure losses for the party. It would ensure the further marginalization of the party.

    Cheney and Limbaugh are both very personally invested in maintaining the status quo within their party. Both have much to lose.
    Thankfully, some in the Republican party are realizing that America has much to lose by handing it over to a single party system... which is what will happen if we continue to have a country with one party insisting on a narrow group of members and the other allowing a diveristy amongst its members' points of view.

    May 24, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. John

    Civil discourse. Now there is a change.

    We can (no really) disagree without being disagreeable.

    May 24, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Claudia in Houson

    For years black people have voted for the best qualified for president, all were white. The first time we have a black man running, we are accused of being racist because we vote for him and that is a lame argument. We have always voted for the best qualified.

    May 24, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Cheney, Palin, Rove, Limbaugh, and the Bish clan need to start their own loony party devoted to fear-mongering, paranoia, and their pet social issues.

    May 24, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. David

    There are few if any republicans that would agree with the vast majority of President Obama's polical views Therefore either Colin Powell's political and social views are in line with the democratic party or he voted for and supports President Obama because of his race. Either way it disqualifies him from speaking for the republican party.

    May 24, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Mr Man

    Rush is the true idiot.And a Raciest. And u and me both no that .

    May 24, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. dennis

    The sound of Republicans whining. Is there song any sweeter?

    May 24, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Kevin

    If the Republican Party could find more Powell's to lead them, they wouldn't be in the minority. As long as Rush and Cheney are the voices of the party, the Democrats will keep the strong hold in American politics.

    May 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Noah from Philly

    Some of you people are a complete disgrace and obvious hypocrites. A few years ago, if a democrat criticized Powell then he would be labeled anti-American. One must never say anything bad about anyone in or involved with the military! Now he's the scum of the earth because he doesn't fall in line with all of your "beliefs" (I use quotation marks because you just regurgitate what people tell you to believe). You people have weak morals and are weak-spined. But you put a yellow ribbon on your bumper so you did your part for the country.

    May 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Raphael

    Powell served his country with honor....some of you need to back off and show this man some respect

    May 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. peter

    The RNC MADE Colin Powell? That is absurd. The U.S. Army Made Colin Powell, and they were already working with a hyper achieving, brave,military mind.

    He is a military hero and brave and honorable man. Those on here attacking him, because he dare go against Cheney, are just seditious Rush Limbaugh worshipers. Limbaugh was a chicken hawk and has never served a day in public office.

    May 24, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. Darth Cheney

    Love to hear all these Repubs complain about Powell (RINO, idiot, prostitute). You are the poster children for the demise of the party; keep it up!!!
    A progressive, liberal Democrat

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. mightyfudge

    I don't understand why Dick Cheney still cares. Why doesn't he just stay at home and count all that tax payer money he and his buddies funneled out of the country over the last eight years. Probably hired some illegal aliens to count it for him...

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Blackatron

    republicans are swine.

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Rick of AZ

    I left the Republican Party because of socialist like Powell who call themselves Republican. He he wants to be politically correct, call himself an American Republican Progressive. As an American we can label ourselves whatever we want. The fact is, over time our actions will dictate where we stand and the type of person we are. I for one, have not acted like an American the Founding Fathers had envisioned, but I am closer to it than most people in the United States. I have gotten my head out of the sand, not where others still have it, and will no longer support anyone, Republican or Democrat, that does not support our Constitution as written (not Progressed) and Natural Law.

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Independant Voter

    Someone actually wrote in this post that Powell is "a weak kneed loser".
    I'm sure whoever wrote that has a really important job, making incredibly tough decisions daily.
    I'm sure that person is formally educated with a mature perspective of the world.
    I'm sure this person can intellegently describe the positions of her opponent, and factually debate the points.
    I'm sure this person has spent much time learning about Powell and his accomplishments.

    If not, then this person must surely work for Fox News.

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. David

    Colin Powell started his career as Nixon's lap dog and finished it as Bush's lap dog, lying on command for both. No wonder he feels so comfortable supporting Obama.

    The real mystery is why anyone has any respect for him or cares who he voted for. . . .

    May 24, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. kathryn

    I congratulate Colin powell for standing up to be counted. The republican party is in danger of becoming merely an historical fiootnote as it continues to alienate reasonable citizens who do not toe the Limbaugh/Cheney/Coulter party line.

    May 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. gerry

    Unlike, the right wing wing nuts, Colin Powell is an American first. Too bad Limbaugh, Rove and Cheney think only of their own power-not what's best for the country.

    May 24, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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