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. Doug, Louisiana

    Powell can support Obama all he wants. Obama's policies and spending will get him voted out of office in 2012. And because Obama was so bad as a president it will be a long time before an African American is President again.

    May 24, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. RG

    Rush is just a mouthpiece. He has to make a lot of noise to stay in the forefront and it really doesn't even matter whether he is right or wrong, as long as he is making noise and getting attention. Take him with the same grain of salt you would Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and then you can appreciate the humor of it all.

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Jeff

    Look at what these guys are focusing on!!! I say the republican party needs to recruit some new spokespersons that are truly motivated about improving the party through serving the people of the United States. I'm really surprised that Tom and Colin would allow an entertainer such as Limbaugh to draw a response from them.

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Frank of the Lone Star state

    We are all free to vote for the ticket we deem to be the best for our country regardless of our affiliations. That said, the press unfairly favored the Democratic ticket such that the general population didn't have all the facts when it came time to vote. Mr Powell may very well still be a Republican, but it doesn't seem as if he is doing much, if anything, to 'fix' the party.

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Kay Christlieb

    In response to Horace's comment: I sadly agree with you. I'm a fourth generation Texan and I often look forward to a day when my parents generation are gone and my children who have been raised in a more inclusive, less judgmental way can lead the nation.

    The Cheney;s, Rove's and Limbaugh's of the world need to move on and let others work together in an respectful way.

    Please try to remember that all Texans are not like W!

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Limbaugh should be waterboarded so he can tell the truth whether he is not working for the Democratic Party.

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Has anyone forgotten the fact that Limbaugh is a drug abuser??? Even if he is off the Oxys, his legacy is forever tainted by the fact that he was caught and was able to buy his way out of serious jail time.

    May 24, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Libertarian

    It's laughable that Cheney would pick Limbaugh over Powell. Two fat, greedy, grumpy, old men that NEVER did a thing for their country up against a decorated veteran. The two of them combined still do not make half the man that is Colin Powell.

    Ask yourself this one question; if your life was on the line and you had to chose any one of them to help you....who would you chose?

    May 24, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. 4 and the door

    Notice how Powell said he thought at the time that he was voting for the best candidate. This is a thinly veiled admission that he was obviously wrong. Very wrong, actually but apologies will not get our country's future back. Supporting the Republican candidate in 2012 will.

    May 24, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Mona

    To sum it up in a few words, Cheney, Rush, and the silent type
    Bush, are all PATHETIC people lost in some fantasy world. I am
    a Democrat but have on ocassion (once) voted for a Republican.
    I vote for the person I think is qualified as did Colin Powell. Why
    he has to be taken thru the ringer because of his convictions is
    beyond me.....last I heard this was America. And doubters, he
    voted for the Iraq invasion because of the intelligence given to
    him.....Why don't you whiners go after Rummy, Ashcroft, &
    Gonzales all liars like Cheney, Rush & Bush! Pffft!

    May 24, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Norm L Republican

    Too bad Powell is too honest to be a politician. McCain's choice of Palin proved to most of the public that his judgement is as bad as Bush's. The public nearly always votes for the least worst of the candidates(except for the worst prez in 100 years...Jimmy Carter). The public no longer wants religious 'visions' guiding foreign policy. The republican congress abandoned their strongest virtue – fiscal responsibility, and deserved to lose.

    May 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Jans Florida

    Powell was made by Bush and Cheny then sold out Bush. Bush and Cheny gave Powell an opportunity, there are many that have the same or better service records than Powell who were not chosen. Bush and Cheny saw something in Powell they liked. Powell sold them out, so why is this confusing everyone. It is that simple.

    May 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. james

    Hi every one out there, why can't we come together for the sake of this country to send Dick cheney and rush limbaugh to gitmo, those idiots are the most stupid human on earth.

    May 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Jeff M.

    GOP led by Super Americans with anal cysts and five deferments.
    Hypocrites – plain and simple.
    When did being a draft dodger become an official prerequisite for being a defacto leader of the Repubulican party?

    May 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. You lost another one

    You lost another one. I'm going with the intelligent, thoughtful, inclusive, decision maker. I'm with "that one!" I have to leave what has become the party of spiteful, hateful, ignorant no sayers! To tell you the truth, I left after McCain brought in Sarah "I can see Russia from my backyard." Palin.

    May 24, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. Syd Hssain

    Gen. Powell is still a great American Republican who served the country militarily, diplomatically and politically and I think none of the two finger pointers has that qualities. I strongly recommend the Republican party should consider him to be the next presidential candidate in 2016 and make him the next African American President after President Obama's second term. I strongly believe the American people will vote for him in 2016.

    May 24, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Get a life Cheney for you had eight years to get it right and you fail to do so. You need to take your ailing ugly butt home and watch the soaps. Your time is up and has been for a very long time. You have the lowest rating of any President in history .Who cares about what you are talking about you foolish man.

    May 24, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Kevin

    It didn't really take an advanced degree to see that Barack Obama was going to be a better President then John McCain. What is unfortunate about Colin Powell is that he voted for George W. Bush a second time. You know what they say, "Fool me once, you can't get fooled again". Well, shame on you Colin Powell, I won't be fooled again.

    May 24, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. Erick

    Hey everyone. I think Powell is a honest person I have admired him. He's a good man. He knows which is best. I know he's a Republican. I am Democrat. I just say that he has been honest with us for all the year than any Republican I ever heard. He is right we need to focus on the future than the past. I don't appreciate what Cheney had say on attacking President Obama. I have agreed with Obama what we need is to focus on the future than the past. I think Republican does not seem focus on our people. They like to keep attacking that is not answer. They need to stop. They need to work with Obama what is best for our people. PERIOD

    May 24, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Mike in Canada

    Pleased to hear and read the Positive comments for Obama. I think consistant, and constant message of restoring American values will serve well on many levels, family unit, ecomony, and world leader. Thank you Obama, for taking on this great responsibility, and stay the course.

    Not sure why the Replublican party has built their platform of anger and fear, and continues to do so. I not a healthy way to lead, and we have seen the effects.

    Often I think I am misinformed about the replublican party, although the more the party speaks.....

    May 24, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Fuhrerone

    All the people who are calling powell names should realize that limbaugh is a druggie and cheney a nixon politician. We got attack on 9/11 during bush and cheney watch they did not catch osama bin laden and north korea has nukes. All you people still backing cheny bush ideas shut up already go back to school and educate yourself. Realize now that cheney/bush lie about iraq cheney is just trying to change the converstation and save himself. If we were in the nuremberg trials based on all the evidence bush and cheney would face the firing squad or be hang.

    May 24, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Paul deMontesquiou, Esq./Broker

    I have great admiration for General Powell. He would be a great
    president. He is a great statesman.

    I vote for the person not the party. In the 2008 election I voted for
    democrats and republicans.

    General Powell is right about the republican party.

    Paul deMontesquiou, Esq./Broker
    Walsh & deMontesquiou
    Carolina Dream Living
    Carolina Dream Builders, LLC

    May 24, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Brandon J Allen

    I bet my bears tickets that most of the people who agree with VP Cheney and Limbo, like them, have never serve in uniform and are proud the get there "How to be a great American" ideas from a radio host!!!! Are you all serious right now!!! Are you all dumping on a 4 star General cause a over paid radio jockey told you. Another thing, someone name THE GOP BASE a liitle below said repubs need to listen to Joe the Plummer.......... YOU ARE AN IDIOT..

    May 24, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Rich in FL

    Powell is the true patriot. Cheney and Rush avoided serving their country. Powell supported the best candidate last November and time will prove him right.

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Hakeem

    There is no doubting the fact that Cheney has all the traits of a dictator. Thank God America is not a third world country that he can thrives. Republicans should understand one fact, most of the utterances of Rush Limbaugh will hurt the party rather than help it.

    Collin Powell is an American hero that cannot be rubbished by the likes of Cheney and Limbaugh.

    May 24, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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