Colin Powell is bucking his own party, again
January 13th, 2013
12:29 PM ET
10 years ago

Colin Powell is bucking his own party, again

(CNN) – When President Barack Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense last week, criticism came in swiftly from several Republicans. But there's one member of the GOP who couldn't be more supportive of Hagel, and that's former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

For starters, Powell said Sunday that Hagel would be an excellent fit for defense secretary because of his military service in Vietnam, where Hagel was wounded twice.

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"I will tell you who thinks that makes him a good candidate for secretary of defense: the men and women in the armed forces of the United States, who know that this is a guy who will be very careful about putting their lives at risk, because he put his life at risk," Powell said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

But Powell said it takes more than just combat experience to be a good defense secretary. He said Hagel has the right pragmatic worldview to fit the role.

"He knows what war is, and he will fight a war if it's necessary, but he's a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care," Powell said.

It's that deliberation which has received some of the harshest criticism, as Hagel is on record as opposing unilateral sanctions against Iran and also President George W. Bush's Iraq troop surge in 2007.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who served with Hagel in the Senate from 1997 to 2009, has been one of his most ardent critics.

McCain said Hagel told him at the time the surge would be "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

"I've never heard him contradict that statement or change his position about the surge," McCain said Tuesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

Hagel has also taken flak for a perceived lack of support for the state of Israel, partly because he once referred to a "Jewish lobby," which some interpreted as a derisive reference to pro-Israeli groups. He has also criticized Israel's posture toward Iran.

But Powell said the fact that Hagel may have some disagreements with the Israeli government doesn't mean he isn't a strong supporter of the state.
"I am very supportive of the state of Israel, so is Sen. Hagel, and you'll see that in the confirmation hearings. But it doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position the Israeli government takes," Powell said.

So does Powell think Hagel will ultimately be confirmed by the Senate, after confirmation hearings later this month?

"I think he gets confirmed. Ultimately, he's superbly qualified based on his overall record, based on his service to the country, based on how he feels about veterans and troops and their families. I think he will do a great job as secretary of defense," Powell said.
- CNN's Kevin Bohn and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Squigman

    A well educated person, with common sense added. It's impossible to understand how any person could swallow whole, the amount of manure put out by the republican (extreme right). The people in the center of the republican party can not be heard, because the headline grabbers are always to the extreme right on every issue. There seems to be no common ground for any republican issue. The tip of the right wing always has it's say, and it's way.

    January 13, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Best line from Colin Powell interview “we are talking about who is our next candidate but we are not talking about our next agenda”
    GOP please listen to Colin Powell

    January 13, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Jim

    Hagel will get confirmed this is not a battle the republicans want it shows how unwilling they are to work with then president even with one of their own. The senate needs term limits!

    January 13, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    That's a joke. he already demonstrated, he is NOT a Republican, but is instead, a Democrat. He pulled the wool over on Bush, pretending to be a Republican.

    January 13, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. SandyBill

    How is this "Bucking his own party"? Are all republicans supposed to automatically against any and everything the president is for? The headline doesn't fit the reality.

    January 13, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Lee Cox

    So lap-dog Powell throws his hat in with Obama. What else is new? He sat on the side lines while Schwartzkof won the 100 hour war in Iraq; and candy-danced his way around when he was Secretary of State; then bailed on Pres. Bush so he could support Obama (No racial product there, was there? Not according to the MSM) Powell will make all his decisions based on race, period!

    January 13, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. yasmine

    GOP....time after seems you are standing on the wrong side of history..

    January 13, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. drd

    the fact that you state that CP is a member of the GOP party is enough to know your agenda. Why in the world you would think he is a Republican . His support for the Democratic pres nominee says it all.

    January 13, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. Evergreen

    I will accept former SOS Colin Powell's opinion over Sen. McCain's anytime. I agree that the US can be supportive of Israel without having to agree with everything they do.

    January 13, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Anthony in California

    America.. here you have one of the LAST good Republicans. He took some of the fall for the WMD lies as he went along like the good soldier that he is, but despite that, common sense and intelligence is still what Colin is about. Imagine him in a debate with someone like Palin or Santorum or even Romney... THEY dont even deserve to be on the same stage as him. Too bad his career went the way of the GW Bush legacy. He prop couldve been the first black President and worked across the aisle with success.

    January 13, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Name lynn

    Them republicans cant even compromise with obama on the fiscal cliff budget, now you speaking about powell. what is wrong with them republicans crazy an stupid.

    January 13, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. drd

    Also isn't CP the person who advised Congress and assured P Bush that Iraq had wmd?

    January 13, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Gonzoinhouston

    Powell is in favor and McConnel is opposed. That's reason enough to confirm Hagel right there.

    January 13, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. walleye46

    Powell – One of the few Republicans who has a BRAIN.

    January 13, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Martha in CF

    I would listen to what Colin Powell has to say more than any other republican out there. Powell listens and ways issued brought to him before spouting off about it--He is a stand alone thinker--the redumblicans better not play with this.....
    Too bad Powell isn't about to take McConnell or Boehners place.....
    It is time also that we Americans let Congress know that maybe we shouldn't be paying for wages and benefits due Congress. They aren't doing their jobs--In a normal work scene- it would be you're fired!!!!!!!!
    Get er done Congress-the American people are sick of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 13, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Tom

    Powell is saying his party has been taken over by a gang of extremist loons. That's not "bucking" the party. it's a dose of realism. The Republican party would be wise to listen before they march any further down the path of self-destruction. More Republicans need to stand up to the Tea Party terrorists.

    January 13, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |