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. JD

    This country was not built on sharing wealth, but the opportunity to suceed. If you want to share wealth move to Europe. Limbaugh is right on this one.

    May 24, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Palermo

    Interesting that the Republicans never considered the "Reagan Democrats" to be Republicans just because they voted for Reagan. Many people cross party lines when they vote. There is definitely a movement afoot to purge the Republican party of anyone holding any opposing opinions. I believe this is a last-ditch effort by the "old guard" to hold on to power. The Democratic party has made its generational change...the Republicans, so far, have not.

    There are more people in the center than on either of the extreme ends of the political spectrum. It all depends on whether you consider this phenomenon a nightmare or an opportunity.

    May 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. losers

    Gen. Powell, leave the Republican's for the uneducated – well enough of nuance – dumb, racist, tax cut for the rich and screw everyone else party. They can all drown together at their next tea party.

    May 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Kim M

    Cheney is obviously a dick. Talk about appropriate
    Isn't it time for Dr. Evil to fly off into outer space with Mr. Bigglesworth already...geesh. Colin Powel is a middle of the road Regan Republican. He obviously voted for Obama because the Bush doctrine was just too wacked out for his liking.
    Moderation and balance is needed in a country where opinion is diverse. So I say to the far left and to the far right... lighten up people.
    BTW...I want Rush Limbaugh to fail... lol

    May 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. B.H.

    Powell continues to be an honorable and distinguished person and shouldn’t be in the same story with the vile windbag Limbaugh.

    May 24, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Mohammed Qaium

    America grew great because of it's great leaders. Now America is growing down due to it's disgusting leaders like Chenny/Limbaugh/Robe. America deserves better to become great again. Powel has always been in the hearts and minds of good Americans due to his great vision and quality. The more this country will be represented by Gingrich/Chenny/Limabaugh/Robe; the more losing morality and gretaness will be for this great country.

    May 24, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. Merle

    The first war in Iraq(right or wrong)I recall Powell being opposed to liberating Kuwait and the war.If the top General is opposed to fighting the war,then it's difficult to lead the troops.Whether he is demo or repub.I don't give a chit but I did lose respect for him at the time we went to war.

    May 24, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Joshua Solomon

    The question is whether you support a candidate because that person is the best or if you support them solely because they are of a certain party – even against what you feel is best for the country. If you blindly support them because they are of a certain party, then there is nothing to discuss your agenda is set and the motive for anything you suggest is clear. However, if you support, what in your view, is the best candidate – now we can have a dialogue about the merits and the future of the country, not the Republican or Democrat country but simply our country. God Bless America.

    May 24, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. Dave Ranning

    Powell should of given one of his famous "Powell Point" presentations like he did at the UN. He will forever live in infamy, after that bit of propaganda that led to the loss of thousands, if not millions of lives.
    He drank the Kool Ade, and now needs to accept the crimes of his past.

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

    Biden is the best VP ever! I hung out with him at Little Smokey's Bar the other night. We slammed some jack and had a blast. I love that guy.

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

    Why would anyone be surprised that Gen Powell stands up for America first? When he was called on he served his country. Unlike Cheney who plays "chicken hawk" years after he avoided his duty with multiple deferments.... Bush was protected by the real President Bush's contacts in government from fulfilling his obligations in the military....and Limabaugh was who knows where?

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Jim

    The fragile allegiance between the social conservatives and fiscal conservatives has been destroyed under Bush Jr's nation building adventures and the corruption of Tom Delay's congress. Humpty Dumpty is broken and he needs to be put back together in order to be a majority party again. It seems almost impossible to me as the right-wing will not bend and time and demographics are working against them.

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

    What is left of the Repubican party is not American. A OK Republican who thinks it is okay to carry guns into National Parks. REP. Presidential Candidates who don't believe in evolution. Republicans who deny climate change to support the oil industry. Pharmeceutical companies who advertise on TV and paid for Bush's inaugural. Then you have Cheney, Gingrich and Limbaugh still preaching that Americans should fear, not overcome the fear. A party still supported by the evangelicals is a failure to America!!

    Time for America to stand against these people who should be pushed from the republican party.

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. jill

    We all have to keep in mind that this was a turning point for African Americans! This was a dream come true! If I were Collin I would do the same! Who cares if it is soley on race alone. I have way more respect for Collin than cheney and rush! look at their track records,they are ignorant and need to think before speaking!

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. Independent_me

    Colin Powell – you are delusional if you think that the Party of Cheney, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Beck and Savage can ever be inclusive of those who are not like them. You are a pawn that was used for their purposes, a token.
    You need to get out of that godless Party. That Party is just wolves in sheep's clothing.

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. The Veteran

    Oh, and Cheney should be giving his interviews from PRISON!!

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. mouthy

    Well, Cheney may have been born with a silver spoon, but I think someone crammed it in the wrong end.

    May 24, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Andrea

    I admire Powel more and more. He seems to be the only adult in the Republican Party right now. Good show.

    May 24, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. txleadhead

    He could have been the first black President. Only if he had run as an Independent? Now we're stuck with back peddler Obamee.

    May 24, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Tim from Texas

    I think that the majority of citizens in the US could care less what Dick Cheney has to say. Why is the media paying attention to him? Rush Limbaugh has already made his reputation as a radical right-winger. Let his radio fans listen to what he has to say and keep him out of the mainstream media limelight. Colin Powell does not deserve to be remarked about by either one of these guys.

    May 24, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Mark

    If Powell voted for Obama because he's black, then every white guy who voted for McCain did so because McCain is white.

    How do you like them apples?

    This whole voting along racial lines is a bunch of B.S. Lets cut the crap. Lets give a Four star General the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he voted for Obama because he puts Country before Party.

    Since putting country before party is a concept completely alien to Limbaugh and Cheney, the are puzzled by his decision.

    May 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Issano

    Whether you Repli(cons) like it or not, Obama will rule for eight straight years. Then Hillary will will rule for another eight. This is Democrat land now.

    May 24, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. The GOP Base

    True conservatives should take back the GOP; I agree with Rush and VP Cheney and Joe the Plumber. People might not like it, but like Rush said, the GOP needs to remind the country who they really are, they're center-right, and a God-fearing Christian nation; Jesus might punish us for letting the gays do what they're doing, and we should be ashamed. We don't need RINOs (liberals and phony conservatives) in the party like Specter and Snowe and Collins too. Lindsey Graham should join the Dems too, I heard him say something good about Obama once, the liberal.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Chris

    Powell is a hero for serving our nation. He is completely wrong for supporting Obama based on really bad policy.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Ann

    On what basis does Limbaugh speak on behalf of a political party? What are his qualifications and experiences? My guess he is as well qualified to be a brain surgeon......

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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