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. Nicole OKC

    Colin Powell has always been a leader with great integrity. He chose what was best for his nation, I highly doubt a man who had thousands of men's lives in his command would vote for a Commander in Chief based on color. Saying that is like saying he chose which countries to invade by which one sounded the coolest. Give the man a little respect. I wish he would run for public office. I am a very proud democrat but would love to see Mr. Powell in any office!

    Mr Cheney, your 8 years are up. Haven't you done enough? I think it's really time for you to retire... please. It is egotistical to the extreme to 'debate' the President. He has the job, you don't. You didn't run.

    May 24, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Edwin Bowers

    If Colin Powell is still a Republican, as he has stated, I can only conclude that he voted for Obama because of race. I do not believe Powell is a Republican, I beleive he is a socialist.

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. WAKE UP Mr. Hollywood President...

    I completely lost respect for Powell...Traitor!

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. av

    How can you consider yourself a Republican if you support and voted for a Democrat?
    Powell – you are a HYPOCRITE!!!! you betrayed the Republican party – there is absolutely no place for you in the party. We do not want your kind of political color in the party. OUT! OUT! OUT!

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Morgan

    Who are any of you to judge a decorated patirot of the American people? Such good Christian folk. Powell is more American than any of those accusing him of being a fraud to a party. Republican or Democrat, Independant or Green are all Americans. If you can't deal then get on the next boat to a 3rd world country. The religious fanatics and material-obese citizens of this country do nothing but consume our resourses and cry when things get rough. Your God is dead, this nation needs strength and I'll take it in whatever candidate can make it happen.

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. OttawaNick

    "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."

    So that means that he thought Bush was the right man for the job not only in 2000 but also in 2004. That's disappointing.

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. David

    I am sure there are die hards still alive that think Herbert Hoover did a pretty good job. History doesn't agree with that assessment. The 20% or so that would still vote for Bush/Cheney (if he could only run one more time) will slowly dwindle to a very few diehards too. I'm sure that 20% also includes the 10 or 12 still living with the good opinion of Hoover. When everything comes out about the last 8 years and with Limbaugh's and Cheney's continued input the Republican party may go the way of the Whig's (last big year 1856).

    May 24, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Christie N.

    No one makes anyone. Powell was well on his way to becoming a prominent politician in this country. If the Bush/Cheney era hadn't hired him, it would have happened in the Obama administration. And lastly, if someone does help you along and they begin to perform politics that I personally find disgusting and you don't agree with, then you DON'T have to stand by and take it. Freedom of speech right? He's a bigger Republican than most in his party. Cheney is devilish and prefers sending more and more troops in to war and causing death and destroying families and torturing anyone captured. He is an absolute disgust to human race and we shouldn't even have to be seeing his face anymore. I appreciate Bush standing on the sidelines and realizing that his politics and far right politics stopped working for this country and have now driven it into the ground. I'm not a bleeding heart liberal by the way. I voted for Bush twice because I thought he knew what was right for this country by preventing terrorism. He and Cheney were unfortunately mostly wrong. I apologize for giving them my vote TWICE.

    May 24, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. mw

    General Powell is a man admired and revered for his service to this nation.
    Rush sounds like a big mouth bigot.
    Chaney sounds just a hate filled loser.
    Newt is floundering. He was a loser a few year back, and should stay in the back. Don't need any of the three in todays spotlight.

    May 24, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Kim

    Why is it that we are hearing more from Cheney now compared to when he was in office for 8 years. How did he benefit our country at all?

    May 24, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Wayne Michaels

    As usual, CNN has taken Limbaugh's remarks out of context. The transcripts are posted on his website. Go read the actual remarks and make your own conclusions, instead of relying on left-wing ideologue reporters to sum them up and make those conclusions for you.

    Shame on you, CNN.

    May 24, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. HRen

    Syd Hssain – Colin Powell is 72 years old, he will be too old to run for President in 16 years.

    May 24, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Jay

    Johns comment I feel was wrong. If he likes we could all watch FOX News which is not only Anti-Obama what they call "regular programming" I think CNN has it right. Keep on trucking CNN and dont worry about the sad Republicans who are in denial of their loss.

    May 24, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. shooter

    Dick head and Limbbutt are not qualified to lead the nation. They should shut up and not interfere with Obama business.

    May 24, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Deb J

    Allow me to be frank: I love Powell. I have always thought he provided rational insights and not knee-jerk reactions. I honestly felt he was put in compromising positions under the former administration (particularly in the struggles between Defense and State), based on public comments from high ranking State Dept. officials. He is, ultimately, a soldier, who remains loyal to his country, although many Republicans would prefer not to paint him in that light. I agree with him that the party would benefit from a more inclusive perspective and that our votes should be based on who is most qualified for President, not exclusively party-line decisions.

    May 24, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. shannon

    Dave Ranning, your comment is right on, it seems people here have forgotten General Powell's speech before the UN, the speech that is responsible for the death of thousands, and our involement in an illegal war.

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. eric

    Colin Powel voted for Obama for the same reason 97% of the blacks voted for him, because he was black. It's evident who the real racists are.

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. mw

    Preston VA
    Check you grammer, sentence structure, punctuation before trying to enlighten anyone in print!!!!

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. The mess

    Any one ever heard the 1st innagural speech ever spoken in u.s. history...? It was by some guy named george washington...yeah i think thats his name... some people say he was pretty smart....but in his speech he warned against political parties...this man founded our nation... and all it has become is a big political partie bonanzaa.... So much for the " UNITED" states of america.... you people just cant get enough arguing in your lifes can you? go watch some Reality T.V. or something

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Al

    Too bad, Powell has served his country well. Obama, the "most qualified" candidate? He is by far the most unqualified candidate that has ever run for and been elected President. He is demonstrating it now, unfortunately.

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Anthony

    Since when did supporting and voting for who you think is the best candidate a sign of treason for your party? Our country was built on principles of free speech and free thinking. I am a 33-year old Iraq vet and lifelong Democrat and I supported Reagan, Bush Sr., and Powell for that matter, and they all are Republicans...I just believed they were the right men for the job. Doesn't mean I'm a traitor for my party. I support you Mr. Powell, for not letting the naysayers of your party influence your mind.

    May 24, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. ronie patrick

    Limbaugh, just think big man small feet. God only knows what is in the full package. Glad I was never married to him for I would have been nelected in a big way. Why are we still talking about Limbaugh? Why are we still giving this pathetic big man small feet power. Don't speak about Limbaugh and he will die , and that is just what you want for him to just die out of the media and do his destruction himself. Not another word about Limbaugh for that is giving away your power.Don't you have other things you can be concern about HINT praying for your President .Does not matter if you voted for him or not. Pray for him for whatever decisions he make it will affect you , for he is the President and you do live in this great free world the USA. I have learned to accept the things I can not change but to pray for the success of the relults and that is what we all should be doing.

    May 24, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Tim

    I respect Mr. Powells right as an American citizen to choose who he wishes to vote for, and which political party he wants to affiliate with. Still it is baffling why he considers himself a Republican when Mr. Obama appears to be totally representative of the vision of the Democratic Party (good or bad).

    May 24, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Tony

    The Repubilcan party has lost the confidence of this country. The reasons are that 8 years of Bush and CHENEY rule has taken this nation on the verge of Bankruptcy, wall street crimes, illegal and fabricated war in Iraq(cheney's fabricated evidence), our reputation tarnished arouned the world specially among our allies due to torture which Cheney seems to think that works and approved it, but has never served a day in our militay to defend this nation but wish to criticize the General Powell, a hero. And is supporting a coward racist like Limbaugh who has never served a day in military either. I am an independant and voted for Bush the first term but realize that if Repubs want their party to run by extreme right wing neo cons like Cheney, Rush, Gingrich, Hannitty and all the bitter loosers they will never come back. They need new faces with new ideas and inclusiveness instead of leaders who think that they have the right to approve who is allowed in the party. Cheney should be investigated, he knows that he has broken the laws and will be in trouble so as a defensive measure wants to go on offence to justify by being loud so he is running his mouth instead of letting people run the country. Cheney has failed and the party has failed with his leadership. It's time to throw out the bums and find new leaders.

    May 24, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. ROBERT

    Does that mean that all of the Repubs who voted for McCain are racist because most of them are white and so is McCain?

    May 24, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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