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. Shanepburke

    If we are getting these new cars with all these gas standards.....what is the Govt going to do when their tax revenue falls because people are buying/using less gas? Oh, thats right raise taxes on gasoline, I get it! Can't wait to be forced to buy a car I don't want! YEAH!!!! BAM!!!

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. seawolf the way, my 23 years in the military instinctively tells me Powell is the only chance the Republicans have of attracting a large enough cross section of the population to have a chance at a return to to power. A life long democrat myself, I know a party lead by the very conscientious and experienced former Sec State would have had a chance at getting my vote. Scarey all the more knowing that skeletons such as Limbaugh rattling in the Republican closet. Republicans, Gen Powell, please switch parties or clean house mightily to show once and for all that Republican does NOT stand for Extremist values focused on control versus development.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Brandon J Allen

    I find it funny that two men, one who tried his best to avoid putting on the uniform of this country and do battle for it, another who thinks he is a patriot because he talks on the radio, think they can judge the loyalty of a 4 star, 4 star, ....I repeat a 4 star General because he didnt vote the way they thought he should is proof that some people do need pills.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Steve

    "Truth-Bomb Thrower", your rant is one of the most ignorant statements ever posted. Powell's a Republican only because there was too much competition on the Dems side, eh? WOW, that's quite a stretch. Powell loyally served Reagan and Bush but he's a "turncoat", right? Man, all of you moronic Powell bashers (and Limbaugh/Cheney supporters) are doing wonders for Democrats. Keep up the good work.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Jokers

    Why would Gen. Powell support someone whose solutions to the problems brought on by Bush and Chaney was to do everything exactly the same. How could he take McCain seriously when he selected Palin as his running mate and Joe the not plumber as their symbol of "maverick." Are you serious?

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. David Russell

    The Republican party won the last few elections because they had the white rich and upper middle class vote their pocketbook – and others (many were actually harmed greatly by the failed trickle-down doctrain) who voted over religious issues.

    This trick will not work in the future. IT WILL NOT WORK. So, if the Republicans will not change – they will not win elections, simple. Powell is correct – the base must grow.

    Communism failed – it did not work. Supply side economic theory failed – it did not work. And yet, there are still people that believe in both for some reason.

    May 24, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Ryan Blanco

    Merle – So you are saying a General can't have a different opinion than the President? So you want the President surrounded by only yes-men? Think about that for a minute.

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Lewis

    The Republicon party – what a joke! They think they're tough, but they're not 🙂

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Too True For You

    Well, this will only end one way. If Powell, a decorated military leader, apologizes to an drug addicted hypocrit with a big mouth.

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Q3

    Limbaugh=A Blowhard
    Cheney=A Blowup
    They could star in a movie...Dumb and Dumber 3

    Powell is-was-and always be a hero of America who thinks with his head rather than the trade winds like Cheney and Limbaugh.

    Are Limb and Cheney twins...separated at birth?


    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Ted Tartaglia

    Cheney, Limbaugh, Hannity, Boehner, and the rest of the right wing looney cowards are not entitled to breath the same air as Colin Powell. Powell is a man who served his country with distinction while the clowns mentioned were too cowardly to serve in the military. These idiots should be exiled to Jupiter.

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Mysticdog

    Why should anyone care what Powell or Cheney think? They are both miserable failures, and both are directly responsible for getting America into a wasteful and distracting war with people who were no threat to us and had nothing to do with 9/11. Powell got his start helping coverup Mi Lai, then helped coverup Iran-Contra, then helped coverup The tens of thousands of vets who suffered from Guld War syndrome. Colin Powell's one great "success" was doing what he was told for Gulf War I, which was a total military success except for the part about removing the dictator from power.

    Powell's a tool. Cheney is a bad contract carpenter, who puts up a flimsy house but still overcharges for it. Neither of them need to be in the headlines.

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. The black spider

    Oh well since the republican party is only good for KNOW NOTHING running mouth clowns and lying pigs on radio or TV they can form another party called the EXTREMIST REPUBLICAN PARTY.
    Again how is that different from the talibans?
    OBAMA has to fight the talibans in pakistan and afghanistan but we have the same deguised taliban here in USA which under the denomination of the GOP.
    CNN post my message.

    May 24, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. nwasen

    a true patriot who isn't afraid to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences.
    Thanks Colin for taking a stand!

    May 24, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. VGal

    To the people who say "it is obvious everyone commenting on CNN is democrat"... that is exactly the mentality of the republicans that is destroying the party. Just because some of us don't agree with Limbaugh (he's a blowhard) and think Cheney is a lying swine, does NOT mean that we are democrats. It only takes a person with a BIT of MORAL reasoning to not agree with those two. If the only people that you want to call republicans are ones that think Limbaugh is some sort of hero, then you will lose EVERYONE but the small, decreasing group of crazy right wing nuts. Those of us WOMEN in the center are being continually turned off by the antics of the republicans and will have no where to go but demo land.

    May 24, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. lev six

    Marvin J said, "Powell has no idea what a true rebub is." I have no doubt that this is true.

    May 24, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Andrew

    Colin Powell for RNC Chairman! Michael Steele is a clown, hopefully Powell is up for the challenge because he is the one man who can inject some dignity into the Republican Party and get rid of their ideological based ideas and hopefully focus more on just good quality legislation

    May 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Mike S.

    Imagine the possibilities of a Republican party based on logic and inclusion rather than ignorance and exclusion. Powell deserves respect for many reasons, but mostly now for speaking outside of the Limbaugh / Cheney / Rove machine that panders to hatred, bigotry, fear, and any other trick that will get a vote.

    May 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. David Russell

    Powel is correct – the base has to grow. The other issue is that the Republicans are wedded to a failed economic theory. Supply side economics has failed twice in the US. Like communism, some people still believe in it – dispite all the evidence of its failure.

    May 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Buford T Justice

    It's incredibly obvious why Powell supported Obama. For Powell to suggest otherwise is just an example of how stupid he thinks everyone else is.
    I really enjoy and encourage the Obama cult saying they will never lose again. Please keep believing that.

    May 24, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. William

    I lost all respect for Powell when he backed Obama because I think he did it because of race not polital belief. I am a devout republican and I'm ashamed to even think that he still considers himself a republican.

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. Done with the RNC

    About 5% of Americans listen to Boss Limbaugh's rantings. The other 95% either do or are starting to realize that the man is just plain NUTS!

    The new RNC will come out of the ashes of Limbaugh, Booby Jindal, Bill O'Really, and the Amazing Sarah Palin and it's leaders will be the likes of Powell, Tom Ridge, and Megan McCain.

    I'm more afraid of them than the right wing whack jobs.

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. jim

    Why do we even care what Dick Cheney thinks? He needs to quietly slink away like Bush did. He is irrelevant. We voted him and his tired right wing agenda out.
    As for Limbaugh, his program is only a platform for his drug induced hallucianation in which he alone knows the right way to go. Any caller to his show that disagrees with him, who is intelligent enough to question his stance, is quickly hung up on without the opportunity to state his case.

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. lmd

    When Powell said he was going to back BO for pres but it had "NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE" he became a four star liar. Just who in the hell did he think he was kidding ?

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. Gene Odyssey

    How funny that all of a sudden CNN decides to open this news item to audience commentary. Why not do the same to all leftist and liberal news, specially your just-add-water pundits'? You might get a good feel of what most americans feel.

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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