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. The Broker.

    You ask Mr Steele. We are both Black. The Three (Black) Stooges, if we include Obama.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Allen L Wenger

    Colin Powell is an honorable, thoughtful man of very high integrity. He has no place in the Republican Party. The party of torture, hate, bigotry, and intollerance is no place for a man like Colin Powell.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. scott MacKeracher

    Tom Ridge now there is another "Genuis" and his comments on Powell or even more irrelevant. The world economy is failling all becasue of Chenn ey/Bush policies and you want commentary on what people think of Collin Powell. Cnn has hit another new low attmpting to promote their right winged agenda ONCE AGAIN. Please tell that the average American is not falling for this crap.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Rick P

    Since Colin Powell gained nothing from supporting Obama and has steadfastly remained a Republican, I don't see how his support for Obama can be viewed as cowardly.

    On the contrary, he and Senator McCain's daughter and those that think that way are the only way the Republican Party can re-establish itself as viable.

    There is a place for conservatism that is more moderate and realistic than the extreme right wing idealogues.

    All Republicans should disavow Limbaugh and his hate mongering.

    Good for Powell.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Chuck

    Hey, Ed ...

    Pelosi, Reid, Core, the staff of CNN, and the Bill Clinton clan need to start their own loony party devoted to fear-mongering, paranoia, and their pet social issues. Goes two ways, cowboy.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Harry Katz

    Long live Cheney and Rush! They will continue to insure that the Presidency and the Congress will remain in Democrats' hands. Kicking Powell out of the Republican party because he voted for a Democratic candidate is to continue politics as usual, and the people have resoundingly voted against that in the last election. The Republican party has become synonymous with racism, right-wing politics, and allowing religion to control various aspects of the party. God, I hope the Republicans never change. And it looks like Cheney and Rush will stay that course!

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Rob Martin

    If you ask me, between the two of them Rush Limbaugh has infinitely more integrity than Colin Powell. To claim that Obama was "the more qualified candidate" in last year's election with two years of congressional experience? C'mon Mr. Powell, you're a smart man. Two years experience versus John McCain's nearly thirty years experience in public service (not to mention being a decorated Naval officer). Mr. Powell should not be so disengenuous; just say you voted for Obama on the basis of race and be done with it. Others have admitted it. It's time for Colin Powell to come clean as well.

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. scott

    truth-bomb thrower, i find your comment to be void of any kind of rational thinking, and rather full assumption and racist sentiment.

    i can't believe you think someone who has sacrificed so much for this country would be looking for "glory" in the political arena!

    no wonder the republican party is vapid, with contributions like yours!

    May 24, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. David

    I'm not sure how Powell can vote for the most liberal person from the Senate who as President is enacting the most liberal fiscal agenda in a long time and still claim to be a Republican. I know Republicans haven't exactly been conservatives lately; John McCain was not a conservative and I think that is a big part of the problem. What republicans need is fiscal conservatism which is lackning in both parties now. Other issues can be debated but this is one they need to change and fast.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Tim

    Who's going to bring the Republican party out of the gutter? Mcarthyism is back, they just changed the target from Communists to Democrats. There a party of ignorance, bigotry, and slime. And most dangerous, they actrually believe that they are divinely driven by God and therefore can do no wrong. How did the hillbilly biblethumpers ever get control of integrity and decency of which they have none?

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Jerome

    I'm amazed. What is his conclusion on the difference between the Republicans and Democrats? None. The parties have to be different. Powell is a closet Democrat. No doubt. If he really voted for Reagan, he would not be endorsing his current views.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. OC Bandito

    Everyone knows that is the definition of a turncoat: Endorse someone then cry. Maybe you can see through your hate and realize that is an oversimplification.
    Is that the best you can come up with- he cried? How woefully simple minded.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Wanza

    Why is it when a white person supports a white candidate it is not about race ? but the moment a black person like Colin Powell supports the most brilliant candidate like B. Obama it is always based on race.

    Shame on Rush or his types.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. Doug

    Hopefully Cheney's heart won't give out any time soon. We need him around to keep weakening the republican party to the point of no return.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Tim Hagar

    Powell should have been the first black president.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Kevin

    It astounds me that the GOP is so ready and willing to cast off anybody who dares divert from the party line... do they have no concept of why they lost the last two cycles?

    Powell and Gingrich are absolutely correct. If the nation is going to be saved from longterm one-party rule, the GOP needs to stop kowtowing to a base that grows more detached from mainstream society.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Steve

    J McCain? what a joke. His qualifications were what? A shot down pilot? Exactly what leadership experience did he have? I could do better.

    May 24, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. John

    Nothing new here. One Republican dare have a differing view from that of the narrow-minded right and they are immdiately and ruthlessly attacked. You see that over and over again. This is why that party is doomed.

    May 24, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Dick/NH

    Powell infuriates Cheney, Limbaugh, Rove, and the rest of the right wing Republicans...what SWEEEEEEEEET music it is!!

    May 24, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. texassam

    Cheney needs to go back home to...whichever three homes he owns??...all of which were financed by his war zealot KBR firms that continuosly change names....his pockets are lined with the blood money he makes off the lives of young American soldiers fighting the sense-less wars....these guys are still powerful and able to create keep their money-train rolling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. richard

    given that the person below acknowledges that there are some, "a few", republicans who support most of obama's plans, even if we assume powell supports most (and he has never said that), then, it's fair for him to speak his mind. Or, must all republicans pass a litmiss test tbefore speaking publically, and if so, who gives it – rush?

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Cheney & Limbaugh Cowards

    If Cheney & Limbaugh are seriously hiding behind this BS race issue, then they are more desperate and cowardly than I ever previously thought possible.

    Instead of debating on the issues, they're just going to write it off as a race issue? Wow! What year is this? 1888? Race is always a choice in selecting a president. Just because EVERY other president has been white doesn't mean that race wasn't involved in the selection process there too! People tend to vote for who they thing their best representative is! COME ON PEOPLE!

    The main point here is that the republican party can't afford to alienate ANY opinion leaders at this point. Cheney must think he's still the VP or something to come out and pass judgment like that. Rush is obviously doing it as part of his continuous self-promotion scheme. At least that's somewhat understandable.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Jim West

    During the 80's, I was a strong Regan Republican. Today's Republican party has nothing in common with Regan's Republican party except the name of the party. The Republican leadership was taken over by some Bush/Cheney idealogues that have done our nation great damage. Bush and Cheney will be lucky if they are not indicted either in the U.S. or by another country for their actions.
    Their careless disregard for human life in wasting our soldier's lives with their senseless war in Iraq, while they failed miserably in Afghanistan to pursue Bin Laden, and then Bush and Cheney paid for the Iraq war with the economic games that have now devastated our economy. I believe strongly in the Lincoln Republican Party Ideals. The best and only way to save the Republican party today is to vote the current crop of Republican leaders into oblivian so they can do our country no harm. The only way to save the Republican party today is to vote the current crop of failed Republican leaders out of office.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Nick - West Hills (L.A.), CA

    Colin Powell is an independent voter and thinker. Someone who looks at the candidate, not the party.

    The U.S. would be a better place with more independent thinkers, not sheep who spew either party's talking points.

    Is it inconceivable that a person can exercise their right to vote for whomever they feel is the best candidate?

    Political parties who exorcise members who are not "always in line", are the real problem.

    And lastly, Colin Powell is an America Hero and deserves our respect and praise, whether or not you agree with his views or who he voted for.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Michael Argentini

    It's obvious that Powell has had enough with regard to the right wing religious conservative group dictating what the party is and does. We'll never know how much (if at all) race played a part in his decision, but one thing is certain. If the party continues to go down the path that led them to this point, Powell will most certainly become a "declared" independent in the near future. He, like Tom Ridge and others, is a moderate. And in my opinion, those moderates are being pushed out of the party.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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