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. Michael Harrah

    Let's stop calling Rush Limbaugh a comedian, but the drug addled race baiting hate monger he is.

    And let's stop calling Cheney a patriot ; a patriot is Colin Powell, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran with a life in public service, not a five time draft deferred Vietnam era draft dodger with an uncanny feel for the sleazy mega buck main chance like Dick Cheney.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. Harv In PA

    As long as Cheney, Limbaugh, Hannity, Boehner, McConnell, Shelby, Corker, etc. continue to represent the Republican Party, their party will remain at the margins of power. If the Republicans want to lead this nation again, they must participate in finding real and long lasting solutions to the problems they created or ignored for the last eight years.

    May 24, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Kurt Troutman

    Remember, this is the same Colin Powell who faced the world and said "Trust me, we know that Saddam has nuclear weapons."

    May 24, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Arthur

    Here we have a perfect answer to Limbaugh and Cheney. The right has taken over the Republican Party and cast off the moderates. In doing so it has removed many moderate Republicans, including myself, and made the party un-electable. Go ahead Cheney and Limbaugh.. keep talking.. while your audience shrinks. Wake up Republican Party.. Jettison these angry old men.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Was a Dem

    Powell voted for an unknown jr Democratic Senator with a fake birth certificate over a Liberal Republican decorated American war hero whose beliefs seem to align with what Powell was all about the last 8 years.
    So tell me, If Obama was white would Powell have still voted for him over McCain?

    Rush just tells it like it is. Period. Pain pills or not.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Fred

    Powell's endoresment speach of Obama (see Meet the Press) was one of the most well crafted arguments for country over party that I've heard. The Republican party needs to find an argument (not a wedge issue) that is equally well crafted if it's going to regain the popularity of the middle. Let the 25% of the electorate go to Rush rallies clap and scream and tear up the furniture – it's simply not enough. Babies and guns don't build a party anymore.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Liberal Democrats are Pathetic

    @Jeff M.

    When did being a draft dodger become an official prerequisite for being a defacto leader of the Repubulican party?


    Apparently you forgot that former Pres. Clinton was a draft dodger? Clinton wasn't even defacto leader... he WAS the leader for the democrat party. I love it when liberals try to sound smart and they prove themselves ignorant.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Mooman

    I'm sorry but a four star general trumps a loud mouth and a wind bag who avoided military service to his country any day of the week. If Powell ever decided to run for president I'd vote for him in a heart beat regardless of what party he's in.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. ed

    No matter what Powell says he is not a Republican and he did vote based on racial grounds. You cannot support the left ideals and embrace Obama who is further to the left of Jummy Carter and call yourself a Republican.

    May 24, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. gwen

    Cheney and Libaugh are pathetice, I mean really who could take either of these men seriously? One is a criminal and the other is an over-paid, drug addicted entertainer!!!!

    May 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Tubby The Tuba Texas

    Newt, wasn't he the major one pointing his finger at President Clinton for having an affair with an intern, all the while he was secretly having his own affair with a young thing? In fact if I remember right, he divorced his wife of many years, and married that younger woman. Now, that speaks volumes about a man! Up close and personal, he will do what he desires to make him richers, or feel better. Like Limbaugh and his oxycotin abuse. Where he was paying for it off the black market. But because these guys have CONNECTIONS neither paid any price for being disloyal, and unfaithful. Just dirty politicians. Both Obama and Powell have way too much respect for the position they are in and for the people they love. These guys are role models for Americans to be, NOT Limbaugh and Newt.

    May 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Carli - Seattle

    Until we can get beyond criticizing a "party" with infantile remarks, we will never have a true discussion and bring valid arguments to the table.

    This is why I have and will forever continue to be an independent. I am ashamed of all party affiliations that point fingers at each other and don't do anything to raise the bar of discussion to solutions, not accusations.

    May 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. John in North Carolina

    Amen to what The Veteran said about the Republican party now being the party of the Pharisees. If Christ were still in his grave, he'd be rolling in it right now!

    May 24, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. BUNNY

    This is one of the many reasons why no one can get along with anyone..insults,very ugly words to one another... this kind of conduct has got to stop ...we the PEOPLE voted for you and WE won't forget next know who said it best...CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG......

    May 24, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. larry

    Nice comments Kim H. and Powell the Turncoat. So, is it your opinion that every democrat and republican should blindly accept any candidate that is placed in front of them? By your logic there is no need to even vote. According to you two geniuses all we need to do is take a census and which ever party has the most members wins. What about freedom of choice? Regardless of any one person's political identity; if someone does not like the candidate offered up by their political party, then they should be able to vote for the opposing candidate guilt free. You guys are demonizing our constitutional right to vote for who ever we want (FREE ELECTIONS). I'm a REPUBLICAN and I say that Powell should be able to support any candidate of his choosing. After all, last time I checked this is still a free country.

    May 24, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. John Kovacs

    There is no question that the current Republican party that sees Limbaugh as its leader is bordering sedition. They should all be investigated by Homeland Security.

    May 24, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. white guy with a brain

    All of these people who say Powell voted for Obama ONLY because he is black forget to mention that the ONLY reason they did not vote for him was because he was black...what a bunch of hypocrisy.

    You are what is wrong with this country. Sometimes I am ashamed of my race.

    May 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Lynn

    The Republicans are amazing. If you do not march in perfect step with their bigoted, selfish, "We are the Oner" politics they turn on your and eat you alive.

    They are their own worst enemy.

    Powell is an American and more than most has served his country. He pays his taxes and like the rest of us has a right to vote for whomever he wants. When the Repugs thought he was going to endorse McCain they were kissing his boots. When he endorsed the person he felt would be the better President they tried to throw him under the bus and demean him by implying that he is as racist as they.

    Thank you General Powell for being a man of integrity.

    May 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Claudia in Houson

    Newt Gingrich must have crawled back under his rock after failing to bring Pelosi down. Cheney and Limbutt could learn a lot from Newt by doing the same.

    May 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Jeff W.

    It continues to boggle my mind that anyone would be a fan of Limbaugh (although I'd love to see how far fans of his went in school). He's an unpleasant looking bloated bully who spews hatred towards minorities and anyone who doesn't embrace his ultra-conservative (i.e., out-dated) ideology. Also, isn't Limbaugh thrice married and didn't he temporarily lose his hearing when he was addicted to drugs? I seem to recall Limbaugh stating that all drug addicts should be killed. Hmmm.

    May 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |

    The republican party is the same party that it allways has been. what is different is that with telivision and the internet people have become better informed. if you would go on the internet and google all of the republican presidents, you will see just how rotten they have all been. allways for the party. never for the people. i dare all republicans to google them. read and learn.

    May 24, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Robin Holmes

    I think Colin Powell is one of the great Americans! I admide him for his service to our nation, and his HONESTY. I will vote for Colin Powell if he should choose to run. I hope President Obama will have a cabinet post for him, he is worthy of it. Thanks Colin for everything you have done for us!

    May 24, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Preston VA

    After reading the posts on here I am inclined to infer that most of you have little or know education beyon that of an elemetary child. If what you know about Powell, Cheney or limbaugh comes from network news, which is what you refer to. Than I have the sad task of informing you that you are misinformed and misguided. Please do some research on your own and take some writing classes.
    Thank you,

    May 24, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. GOP

    Wow! Who is a republican? One that claim to be against abortion, but has fail to adopt a child, no an American child. One that claim to profess the bible, but forgets that God says love thy neighbor as thy self (tolerance). One that claim fiscal prudence, but over the last 10 years have been a spend thrift and a pal of big business. I'm a conservative, I'm black, I'm an immigrant, but this party needs to look itself in the mirror and openly say "I'm the Grand OLD Party and I need to change". I didn’t vote of Obama, but this party is losing me.

    May 24, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Mando

    Colin Powell supported Obama because of race. He can't honestly think that people will buy the idea that Ronald Reagan, Bush1, Bob Dole, an Bush 2 were all moderates, but then the Republican's nominated John Mccain and that signified a shift to the extreme right. Think about it, that in a nutshell is his explanation for voting for Obama. Apparently Mccain was a right wing extremist that went beyond the pale. Let's be honest, Obama is black....Colin powell is black....and Mccain is whiter than snow. That's what this is about.

    May 24, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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