'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. Larry L


    Powell just come out of the closet and admit you have jumped ship and are now a Democrat. No republican could vote twice for a candidate that has the extreme views that Obama has.
    This is why the Republican Party is fading into irrelevancy. You think other people are "extreme". Remember the "birthers"? How about the earth's age at less than 6000 years? No such thing as global climate change? Contraception is evil? Legitimate rape? Over 140 filibusters in the Senate? Deport 11 million people? Racist signs at the Tea Party rallies? Pledges to Grover Norquist? The 47% of Americans who are parasites? Remember those things? America does!

    January 13, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Larry L


    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.
    Those who worked for General Powell know him as a great leader and loyal Soldier. He advised Bush not to go into Iraq but then in loyalty to the CINC, believed and repeated their cherry-picked lies about WMDs. He's far too good a person for Republican Party but as usual, loyalty is his strongest attribute and greatest weakness.

    January 13, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. fensel

    The comments here are pretty revealing. How many people are still calling Powell a racist for "voting for Obama only because he's black!".

    What Powell's comments show is this undeniable truth: the modern Republican party has gone so far to the right that Colin Powell is now being called a liberal. If that isn't a giant wake up call to the Republican party, then nothing will be and they'll lose election after election.

    January 13, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. chupacabra

    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?

    January 13, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. San Juaninos

    Dude, you're a sellout. You voted race instead of qualification. And to think I used to actually have respect for you...

    January 13, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. triman666

    He is not a Republican. In fact anyone who voted for Obama are not Republicans either. There is no defense for voting that guy into office

    January 13, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. RINO Bill

    But Colin, they don't want you in THEIR Republican Party!!!

    January 13, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. CBP

    Colin Powell did support the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, and probably for the same reason many of us did. The GOP has shifted so far to the right and the party represents os few of us. He still is a very respected American and he does represents. Right now we are watching Republican candidates trying to out-do each other. Just who is the most conservative and that wing of the party is out front. Those of us who are more moderate have a difficult time finding good Republican candidates.

    January 13, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. amf140

    If he is Republican – what has he done to prove it. I didn't see him supporting Mitt Romney who was definitely a moderate Republican. Instead he supports the most radical left administration in history. In a recent interview he thinks that Hillary should not be held accountable for Benghavi. As an ex-General, I think that he would want to know why we didn't have airplanes overhead and troops on the ground at the first call for help. He's lost his integrity. What a shame.

    January 13, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Ywright

    I was a republican until 2007/2008. I became an independent after stomaching the continual negative actions by my fellow republicans at the office, it was just too sad. As Texan, living in Texas, it is pretty hard to break from a party that holds ur core belief system but I had enough and I ain't coming back until something change big time.

    January 13, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Mike D49

    I have little respect for someone who just essentially admitted to voting for a Democratic President for the first time in 40 years simply because of race. His opinion is basically worthless at this point.

    January 13, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain: What is it about "well regulated" that you don't get?!?

    Powell is a moderate, which under the current GOP, is intolerable.

    Funny how all these teabaggers and such thump their chests about how they are defenders of freedom and hate tyranny, when if anyone in their own ranks expresses anything other than their strict party line they label them traitors.

    Talk about tyranny!

    January 13, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Why General? This is not the party you grew up with. It has been taken over by nuts and people who hate you.

    January 13, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. John

    Intelligent republican is an oxymoron.

    January 13, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. BOB

    allways liked powell liked obama but i do not like socialism. you can call it raceism greed ect ect bottom line here is they want the the constitution gone. we came here to get away from taxes and big goverment look around you the democrats want to control the goverment. and you. need the tea party to keep the other two in line. i lived in a country for two years where socialsm was alive and well belive me you don,t want to live under that. powell voted for who he thought was right does not mean i agree with him that is what freedom is all about

    January 13, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Mike S

    C'mon. There is also race intolerance going the other way as well. Look at D.C.. Marion Barry was elected several times basically based on race even though that was the last thing the people of D.C. needed to improve their lives. During his term unemployment went up and so did crime. Yet he was still reelected.
    You also can't denied the Democrats ran a campaign that painted Republicans as racists. The last minute ploy by Obama to grant safe status to some Hispanics, to my mind was disgusting, condescending and racist after Obama ignored Hispanics for four years. This is a plan Obama stole from Rubio, a Republican. I still remember a campaign ad in Spanish television ad that called Romney a racist several times simply because he disagree on the approach. Romney never said immigration did not need attention. It was the politically opportunistic approach the Obama took that was the problem.

    January 13, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Powell is a rare voice of reason in the Republican party, the moderates are squeezed out by the right extremists and it is only a matter of time that the GOP wil fade into oblivion. The GOP lacks imagination and objectivity to see the writings on the wall, they will continue with their NO's and blocking anything the President will propose. The GOP does not know how to govern, period.

    January 13, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Donkey Party

    Thanks for proving Powell's point, you right-wing mouth-breathers. The GOP / Teabaggers are facing certain extinction, thanks in part to the ignorant, illiterate, hate-filled racists that support them.

    January 13, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. Vomitimous Dispicitus

    Powell more accurately should be called a Rockefeller Republican which is an extinct breed.

    January 13, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. JimBob

    Powell is far more of a democrat than a republican. WHEN is the last time you heard "any" criticism of the democrats from this man? ( "NEVER" is a good answer) Does he work with the party for his claims, or just stand on the sideline and criticize republicans like Reid, Pelosi and Dear Leader. He has done "tremendous damage" to the republican party to which he says he belongs. He is the "perfect spokesperson" for democrats: a black republican that voted for Obama and constantly and unceasingly criticizes republicans. Colin, have the b*lls to quit the republicans and show your true colors.

    January 13, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. empresstrudy

    So what, Colin, you're not IN politics anymore.

    January 13, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Ancient Texan

    Colinb Powell is the only person in America that still thinks he is a Republican...or cares.

    January 13, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Midwestmatt

    Powell summedup exactly why I left the party in 2007 after trying desperately to believe the party would not consume itself with vitriol and hatred of others. I was wrong as their slide into foolishness only accelerated and became worse than a caricature. The GOP hasn't offered a decent candidate since Bob Dole. Every one in the meantime were jokes.

    January 13, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  24. ARG

    Mr. Powell. You're not a Republican. We don't want you in our party. You, Sir, are a sell out. Stop telling yourself that you're a Republican because you're not. Please call yourself what you truly are – a Democrat. You will never again be invited to any Republican functions and most of all please remember that you bit the hand that fed you for a long time.

    January 13, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. Wilbur

    The republican party is not having an "identity problem", Mr. Powell is having an identity problem. He voted for Obama on basis of his race – it's as simple as that. He may want to think it is because of Obama's stance on issues. But, if he is suggesting that Obama is more center like the changing demographic of the States, he's wrong. Obama is as far left as you can get.

    January 13, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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