'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. Anthony in California

    I bet if he ran as an Independent he'd win. (even with his GWB dirty laundry)

    January 13, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Name lynn

    colin powell can vote for democrates an still be a republican people is republican. yet vote for obama i would do the same thing. what the heck an who cares, powell you stand up for your right

    January 13, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Ron Bockman

    "I'm a moderate, but I'm still a Republican" Just not a very good one.

    January 13, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. JJ

    Colin Powell is a RINO!

    January 13, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. TJ

    You voted for whomever was putting stars on your shoulders, then when the government was done with you, you decided to put race before country. Your credibility was lost with the WMD in Iraq fiasco. Not even the pot smoking republicans will have anything to do with you. Just go away and write a book or something.

    January 13, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Whome

    Yea right and I can fly by flapping my arms real fast.

    January 13, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. IvotedforObama

    Poor man.

    January 13, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Squigman

    It's a shame he's surrounded by incompetent headline seekers, who've allowed ideology to hold all the trump cards. Pragmatic people, with problem solving credentials seem to be in short supply these days. Hopefully this will change in the future.

    January 13, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. ultralance12

    He is what the Republican party should be about. Conservative but not extreme. The shift to the right is alienating moderates and will not win on a national platform until it is changed.

    January 13, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. brenda Meadows

    I worked under Colin Powell and had so much respect for him, would have voted for him for President in a heartbeat. Not so now, I am so disappointed in him. I would have understood him voting for Obama the first time, but after seeing his actions the 4 years, I would never have thought he would vote for him AGAIN. ..I am so very disappointed in him!!!

    January 13, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Bob Jarvis

    You and me both, Gen. Powell. I'm disappointed to hear you voted for Obama in 2008 (although I'll agree that putting Sarah Palin one bullet from the White House was disconcerting), but I agree that Obama was the only credible choice last year. And yep, I still consider myself a Republican – just not sufficiently conservative to vote for many of them these days. What the party is suffering from is not an "identity crisis" or a need to "do better" among minorities. It's suffering from a bad case of sell-out-itis, having sold its soul to "conservatives" like Rupert Murdoch, et, al, whose only interest in politics is in getting their taxes lowered to zero and having laws passed so they can become even more insanely rich. The Republican party has to do a few things: 1) realize that you can't legislate morality, 2) realize that structuring the economy to favor the rich over the middle class and the poor is a losing strategy for everyone, 3) recognize that wars are always a drain on the economy, 4) recognize that doing nothing is not a viable option. The Republican party of the 80's and earlier was worth supporting. The Republican party of today is not.

    And finally – thank you, Gen. Powell, for your leadership over the years.

    January 13, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Quincy

    I really don't have a horse in the fight & do not care, but why didn't he support McCain in 2008 if McCain was also a "moderate" Republican like himself?

    January 13, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. jakinak

    As much as I admire Mr Powell, the fact of the matter is that while he might get a pass for voting Obama the first time around (McCain/Palin left a lot of Republicans dissallusioned), only a "rino" could support a second term for this Administration.

    January 13, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. MidwestJoe

    There is nothing Republican about Colin Powell. first he states the Republican party has made a shift to the right, then he states the party has shifted to the left with the country. Which one is it. Has the country shifted, or the party shifted? The republican party is actually more left of center then they were 10 years ago, when Mr Powell was a card carrying member.

    The fact is Powell hasn't been relevant for a number of years, and the only reason he gets any attention is for shock appeal, as if it's somehow shocking when he takes a leftist view. Well the shock has worn off. If the only we way we can identify you as a republican is because you tell that you are one, then obviously you are not a Republican, regardless of how you voted 8 years ago or how you were raised.

    Not that we have that cleared up, you can go back to being irrelevant again Mr. Powell

    January 13, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. ImIrish

    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck. Powell is NOT a Republican! I used to admire him and think he was a class act. I no longer do, but it's not because he is a Democrat. It's because of his embarrassing behavior, lately. He is an embarrassment to himself.

    January 13, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. manhandler1

    Glad he's speaking up but still wonder why he permanently stained his reputation with that U.N Iraq WMD fiasco. There's no way he really believed that stuff and yet thousands upon thousands are dead because he didn't stand up. If he had have resigned and spoke up rather than buckle under to the likes of Cheney, we may never have gone into that war.

    January 13, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. Nodack

    Powell, one of the few Republicans I have any respect for.

    January 13, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Woman In California

    The republican party will perform a "modern day lynching" of Mr. Powell's statements, when they know EVERY word he spoke was true. Most people myself included, are moderates but will not vote with or for a party who disfranches, insults, suppresses and mocks (us) minorities. Something happened when Reagan came to office, the party of fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility and principles DISAPPEARED and the emergence of divide, debt and division entered. Mr. Powell along with all the other civilized, inteligent and responsible thinking republicans LEFT that party and will continue to sit on the sidelines until the REAL party of Lincoln returns.

    January 13, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. mary

    Biggest joke of the day. You Dems can have him. At one time I respected what Colin had to say but his words give me heartburn especially when he says he's still a Republican.

    January 13, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Yvonne

    I am proud of Powell and agree with him 100%. The GOP needs to accept the new faces of America and draft policies that are consistent with the majority.

    January 13, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Idon'tthinkso

    Turncoat:: one who switches to an opposing side or party; specifically : traitor

    January 13, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Ancient Texan

    Colin- We've run three (3) Moderate Candidates and been defeated; Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. The Conservatives just stayed at home on election day. When we finally find a truly Conservative leader and exhibits a little fervor for the job, the people will support him. You, Colin are a Republican in the mold of Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snow and other RINOs.

    January 13, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. mary

    Also, he was the GOP to change as in what? It's the welfare, EBT recipients that gave Obama his votes. Also, the pro abortion and gay rights activists helped give him the edge. Well, sorry Mr. Powell, but I'd rather never vote again than vote for an abortion/gay rights politician...white or black!!!!! My faith means more to me than what any man has to say!

    January 13, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. Martha in CF

    I would say, Mr Powell, you are the only republican with any class. Too bad your wisdom doesn't filter into your party more.

    January 13, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. I and I

    I stand with Powell, I'm a moderate but still a Republican.

    January 13, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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