'I'm still a Republican,' Powell says
January 13th, 2013
01:20 PM ET
10 years ago

'I'm still a Republican,' Powell says

(CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he's still a member of the Republican Party, despite voting for President Barack Obama in the last two elections and being very critical of the GOP of late.

"I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem - and I'm still a Republican," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But in recent years there's been a significant shift to the right, and we've seen what that shift has produced: two losing presidential campaigns."

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Powell said the key for the GOP is to recognize that the country is changing and the party needs to change along with it.

"I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself, and understand that the country is changing demographically. And if the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they're going to be in trouble," Powell said.

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tallied only about a quarter of the Asian-American and Latino-American votes in the 2012 election. He did even worse among African-Americans, where Obama received over 90% of the vote, according to CNN exit polls from Election Day.

Powell said the Republican disconnect with minorities runs deep and encompasses everything from problems with immigration reform to tax rates among lower-income people. But he also suggested elements of racism may be in play.

"There's also a dark vein of intolerance in some part of the party. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is, they still sort of look down on minorities," Powell said.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Mississippi, responded to Powell's comments later in the show and agreed Republicans have to do better among minorities.

"We have to improve our standing among all of those. The good thing is, with the right kind of policies and the right kind of effort, we will do that. Remember, George W. Bush, the last Republican (president), got 44% of the Hispanic vote - so it's not like there's some 1,000-year history here," Barbour said.

Going forward, Powell said, Republicans have to think not just about who their next presidential candidate is going to be, but also about what the whole party stands for. For the GOP, Powell said, it's time to stop moving so far to the right and come back toward the middle.

"I'm a moderate, but I'm still a Republican. That's how I was raised, and until I voted for Obama twice, I had voted for seven straight Republicans for president," Powell said.

Filed under: Colin Powell • Republicans
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. clhobbsjr

    Each time a extreme Republican speak, a Democrat wakes up.

    January 14, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  2. Wake up People!

    I have NEVER voted for a republican and never even had the inclination to but General Powell is the exception. If he were to EVER run for office I would definitely vote for him. I watched him on MTP yesterday and boy was I impressed. I can't believe he still considers himself a republican. Everything he said was the honest to Gods truth. God bless you General Powell and maybe you should consider becoming a democrat because your party does not want men like you, men that think for themselves and don't just follow the leader and they have no plans to change. It is who they are. Oh sure we're going to see them pretend to change to get the White House back but they will still be the same party of bigots they have been all along.

    Your party has left you General Powell, but we democrats welcome you. Actually we need you.

    January 14, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  3. RINO2

    Mr. Powell is only saying what many of us have known for some time. THE GOP simply has lost a significant segment of their registered voters by promoting dismal candidates, a pathetic party platform, and allowing the RNC to be lorded over by shrill, incompetent mouthpieces. No, I don't mean the troll media buffoons on the F channel. They're a separate bunch of defects who make the situation worse.

    January 14, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. akababysitter

    In my opinion, anyone who accuses blacks of being racist for voting for Obama, must also think that all whites that voted for Romney are racist also.

    If more Republicans were for AMERICA, and not just big interest groups and hating on the president, the GOP would be wildly popular again.

    January 14, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  5. scmom

    hahahahahaha....good one Colin, tell us another joke

    January 14, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. Henry

    It is Powell himself is having an identify problem. Was he a Republican or a self-stereotyped black man? Right or wrong, Obama's ideology is so different and distant from the Republican's and it is not possible to confuse one from the others. The choices (again not saying they were right or wrong) that Powell has been making are clearly have nothing to do with "republican" and are racist in nature.

    January 14, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  7. Wilson


    Now that the election is over, we–all Americans should stand up and support our President and help move our country to the middle!
    The problem is Obama does not want the "middle."

    January 14, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  8. Hugh Jass

    "Obama is as far left as you can get." That's crazy talk. He's barely left of center. You guys are just freaking out because he's black, and you need to let those GOP scales fall from your eyes, You want someone REALLY left next time? Heh, watch out what you ask for.

    January 14, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  9. I'll be That Guy

    This is too funny. So the man basically says the Republican party has a problem with racism, and if the reactions on this website are any indication, they're are too eager to prove him right.

    January 14, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  10. Hogan's Goat

    The Republicans say you are a Democrat. Sorry, pal. Wrong color skin.

    January 14, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    One major difference between the way Dubya treated Hispanics and the current trend of Xenophobia and Jingoism prevalent in today's Republican Party is Dubya didn't call for the Death Penalty for anyone whose last name ended in "ez". Delegates at the Republican Conventions during Dubya's era didn't denigrate Black Journalists by equating them to "servants" (I am using a euphemism, here).
    The party actually started looking somewhat Progressive with McCain's nomination. Unfortunately, taking on the "former-governor-of-Alaska-who-quit-before-her-term-expired-because-she-couldn't-take-the-pressure-and-could-make-more-money-outside-of-office" sort of ruined that with her extreme jingoism, racism, xenophobia, and egotism. And she became the new face of Republicanism.
    This extreme showed itself when Bob Dole, who had to be one of the finest people the Republican Party ever produced, was denigrated by his own people when he appeared at the Capitol, in his wheelchair, and asked Congress to ratify the UN Treaty guaranteeing equal rights for the disabled, and they basically slapped him in the face. Had he the strength to do so, he should have thrashed Mitch McConnell and company for their less than Compassionate Conservatism.

    January 14, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  12. blake

    Powell is a RINO at best. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ...

    January 14, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  13. nytw

    Powell should feel free to join the Democrat Party. There is no such thing as a moderate Republican. There are real conservatives that love America and liberals.

    January 14, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  14. GuestAgain

    I once had high regard for Colin Powell but when he stated that his decision to vote for Obama was not entirely absent of color he lost all credibility. SELLOUT! Thats the way it his. Go join the dumbocrats Colin.

    January 14, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. riightospeak

    Powell lied about weapons of mass destruction to the UN, he can lie to us about anything. Nothing to be proud of. When I met him in Gelnhousen, Germany he was a nice guy, but power corrupts. If Nuremberg type trials were held today he along with Bush , Cheney and Rumsfeld would be charged with war crimes. Unfortunately the victors go free . At Nuremberg Stalin's henchmen and others committed war crimes as well ( bombing of Dresden come to mind) but they were victors-strange justice and hypocricy.

    January 14, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. Kweso

    It's futile to ask the GOP to move toward the center because they would have to give up some of their most cherished values. I think they should move more to the right. With the DNC moving more to the left, it will provide an opportunity for a new centrist party to emerge. A centrist party is what this country needs today.

    January 14, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. Mike D

    I identify with Collin Powell. I have been a lifelong Republican and voted for Rep pres candidates until Bush Jr.'s second term. The problem for me with the Rep party is it is no longer conservative. It is the party of big spending (mostly wars and an irrationally high "defense" budget). Both parties are dominated by special interest lobbies. Conservative to me means reluctant. Reluctant to enter foreign wars, reluctant to get involved in social/moral issues like religion and abortion. Now the Rep are the activists and the party led by emotion and hysteria vs. the thoughtful conservatives of the William F. Buckley Jr. vein.

    January 14, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  18. Gerry

    This independent voted democrat the last 3 elections in a row but next time thanks to the democrats endless witch hunt to disarm the American people I will be voting Republican for who are whatever they come up with. cnn are you going to post this are will I have to type it a 3rd time?


    you need to speak to the grieving parents and see the carnage first hand at Sandy Hook Elementary school...your gun stance might evolve after that.

    January 14, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. Di

    Yes Mr Powell, if a extremists believes in God, Country, Constitution and Bill of Rights. I'm proud to be a American with extreme idealism not moderate!

    January 14, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's face it, if you're a republican candidate for office with a republican agenda, you can still represent all the people while catering to your base Its just that you have to find common ground and use compromise so that no one is neglected or left behind. Unfortunately these republican hardliners really don't care about the American people and the country as a whole. Mitt Romney was a prime example. During the campaign, he said his 47 percent comment was out of line and wrong but as soon after he lost the election, he showed his true colors once again by saying that the President gave gifts to get votes. If you want to appeal to voters you must respect them and show them that you really care about them and really want to help them. Likewise, you must convince them that you're a trustworthy and honest person with integrity and compassion. Until republicans can learn to respect the American people again, they'd have a hard time appealing to the majority of the American voters.

    January 14, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
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