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. Jessica

    I guess for some inflexibly-minded folks, it's inconceivable that someone might actually use criteria more complex then Democrat v. Republican to make a decision.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Claire Hall

    Many of these commentators may not understand. The Republican party is based on fiscal conservatism. It has been taken over by social conservatism. I think you can be a liberal and still want responsible, unobtrusive government. A good example would be Ron Paul. Cheney and Limbaugh are like wolves in sheep's clothing: they really don't want fiscal conservatism (else why endorse the flagrant spending of the Bush era) but they have a social agenda to push and clothe it in the flag. The Republican party which is best for the country should attract the vast majority of fiscally conservative Americans but it generates distaste because of its unfortunate, mainly religious based social views. What happened to the separation of church and state?

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Mark

    Why would Chenay say what he did in his own, self called news conference? He knew it would be contriversial and stir feelings. He intends to run for President next time around. There is no other reason to do what he did. It's pointless and simply causes the divide to open even more. These so-called republicans have only their own interest in mind and that will never succeed.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. suzanneek1

    Colin Powell is right. The Republican party is trying to hang on to its narrow conservative roots but it no longer represents the majority of conservative opinions these days. They have to expand their base and ideology to gain more members. Limbaugh is so far to the right but most Republicans like myself are not. Most are in the middle that is why we lost the election this year. Most people are in the middle. I think both parties the Democrats and Republicans miss this fact. When Democrats are in the office they go to far to the extreme liberal side and the Republicans go to far to the conservative side. The party that understands that they represent the majority in office and stay within that spectrum when they are conducting our government will actually finally represent the people who put them there and not just play political tug-of-war.

    May 24, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Kent

    This is still a free country, I think. Colin Powell is still free to choose what he says and about whom. If it's in critique of his party, whether some accept it or not, he is free to do so. There are so many among both parties that try to tell us what to think, say, whom to vote for, and what to do, that it sickens me as a human being. I am an Independent and Colin Powell is right to criticize his party. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is priceless. Pointless belittlement is fruitless. Folks who think they can dictate what others think are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. We all have a say in this matter, regardless of what each of us believes, so let's listen to one another, then, one by one, on election day, we'll make our choices to head off in whatever direction that takes us. I hope it is the right direction.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Daniel Plainview

    Follow the money:

    –Cheney is trying to get a multi-million dollar book deal so his new job to get people to pay attention to him .

    –Limbaugh's job is to keep people remembering his name so his advertisers keep paying high rates.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. joel palmer

    When a fat drug addict and a five times draft-dodging chicken hawk are given more credence than a bona fide American hero, then it's time for all thinking people to leave the republican party to the thugs, the morons, the illiterate, the bigoted, the trash, and the haters.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Randy

    Colin I wouldn't admit that but ok these are the guys that hung you out to dry.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. MPeter

    I will take Gen. Powell over cowards like Cheney or Limbaugh any time. Cheney and Limbaugh peddle fear but are cowards who have never risked anything for the country.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Lee

    I respect Gen. Powell's opinion a heck of a lot more than that of Quick-Draw Cheney or that drug addict Limbaugh.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. rod

    Did Mr. Powell vote for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton who are black when they ran for president,I don't think so. This race nonsense has got to stop. Limbaugh is a nut, plain and simple and making money with his racist comments. I am a democrat who has voted for the other party if I thought it was best for the country.I still want a strong republican party because we need check and balances.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. justin

    Republicans just don't get it, You have the nerve to question a war hero who actually WON the first Iraq war and is a great American man not black or white , just American. Then you take the side of an opiate addicted blow hard and war criminal who has never been in a school yard fight and shoots his friends while hunting and republicans wonder why they loat and why the party is a joke and in shambles?!? By the way if Rush is so great then I expect his name to be in the next presidential election...

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Jim from Chicago

    General Powell is a hero and can see that the future of the GOP does not lie in being a narrow-minded, narrowly focused party. Neo-fascists like Cheney and Limbaugh want to drive moderates out, at a time when moderation is clearly where the country is heading. A few years from now, we will all look back at these wrong-headed bomb-throwers and wonder what the heck anybody ever saw in their despicable actions and destructive rhetoric.

    May 24, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Kevin M.

    To Kim Hewson..... To call a war hero a loser is an affront to all who served their country bravely in combat. The man has earned respect and I would hope you would remember that.

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Fred Clarke

    Limbaugh and Cheney are good examples of nasty politics. Disgusting.
    Cheney still acts and seems to think that if he speaks, everyone accepts what he says as God's truth. Wrong. He has proven over and over again he is a liar and a manipulative individual that no one feels is trustworthy nor acting in anybodies interest but his own. Limbaugh I will not even give any credibility to with any comments as I feel he has not credibility. Both use fear and intimidation to try to influence others. Powell at least has some integrity and is one of the few republicans in the party today that I can respect, not only as a republican but also as a human being.

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. robert wade

    for those individuals above that are gritical of Gen. Powell, I have this to say. The Democrats won, not only the White House but the Congress as well. Get over it and move on.....
    This is the painful thorn in all conservative Republican's side. It appears they you (Republicans Die-Hards) cannot stand the notion that your party is out of power.
    Listening to most of you makes me sad that you have no new ideas, no means to attract new members and most importantly, no ability to support our national leader in this time of history for our country and the world.
    Good luck in 2010 & 2012?????

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. Brian Quinn

    It is obvious from looking at the previous posts that many of those commenting are angry, misinformed separatists, which seems to be indicative of the current Republican Party. Woe be the day when you are criticized for voting for the person that you think will do the best for our country, regardless of political party. Please remember this gentleman is a highly decorated military man and vastly intelligent individual. I applaud his right to choose for whom he votes in any election. Let freedom reign.

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Wendy G.

    Who on this good Earth would care what either Rush Limbaugh or Dick Chaney has to say about ANYTHING at all??? What losers !!
    God bless you Colin Powell !!

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. faye

    i think cheney and all the other repub. need to stop look and listen to what our president is trying to say. gitmo is closing the detainees are going to be placed in a place that is secure and the rest is going to be sent back to their own country. all this is just to make this president look like he dont have any staff but himself. our president is looking into the future, the past is gone. please live him alone and let him do his job. end of story

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Worried

    Man, the anger that people let loose on a guy who has served in military with honor, held significant leadership roles in the military and Department of State, and now has the audacity to speak his mind and vote for a change (more about John McCain than Barack Obama, I think) in where the country needs to go, is amazing.

    I do not think Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney speak for the majority of the Republican party, nor do I think either of them is in the same league in terms of service to country, honor and integrity as Colin Powell. Unless and until we can actually have debates and discussion about policy and the future of our country, I think things will only get uglier, and we will be stuck with very little choice in our elections. Let's try to raise the level of discourse from angry screaming to something a little more civil and (hopefully) productive.

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Robulous529

    Though it's not in the best interest in the country, watching the GOP implode has been quite amusing. As we draw ever closer to the next election cycle I've been wondering if James Carville is right and we will see Democratic Party domination for the next few decades while the GOP argues amongst itself and eats its young.

    May 24, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Rick

    I can onlly hope the hate filled spewage on this page is truly indicative of the feelings of those that are "true" Republicans. The Republican party has, to the rest of us, become a party of roughly 20% of the population who are hardline "right wingers" (read fear mongers clinging to guns and religion). At this rate, the future of the party will be for idiots like Limbaugh to whip these fearful sheep into a frenzy until some of them do something crazy ala Oklahoma City, and when that happens the Republiican party will be done. Mark my words, these people are becoming so irrelevant that in short time violence will be all they have left as their political power will be so marginalzed. Give it up haters, Liberals and Independants have guns (and guts) too! This former Marine Officer is an Independant, but I will NEVER vote for another Republican as long as they are spewing this kind of hate!

    May 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Jacob

    It's amazing what conservatives will say when someone goes against the almighty Limbaugh. He's a radio host and nothing else, get over it.

    May 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. Albert Zaza

    We finally have a Republican who is not a limb duck! Collin Powell is right on the mark and like he did for his country as Military man, he is standing out again for his country as a civilian.

    Thank God for man like Powell.

    May 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. VGal

    There are VERY FEW people who comment on these articles that are QUALIFIED to comment on Colin Powell. He is a man who has done more for this country than the combination of EVERYONE who blogs on CNN. He held an honorable title and is an honorable person – and has SHOWN it. I will believe him over the misguided, uneducated OPINIONS of people who haven't done anything except RUN A TALK SHOW.

    May 24, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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