'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. jt

    I'm a Bears fan but I cheer for the Green Bay Packers – my brother is a Yankee fan who cheers for the Red Sox and Powell is a republican who votes for democratic presidents – makes perfect sense to me – yeah right...you are what you are..

    January 13, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  2. Mforward2012

    That SHELLACKING really hurt I see, how RIDICULOUS, LOL

    January 13, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Alex

    He is about as much of a Republican as Regean is a Democrat. That is pitiful to vote based on race...by the way, do the enlightened ones who believe that the republicans are leaning far right, believe the Democrats haven't shifted far far left?

    January 13, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    I wouldn't brag about that, Colin. it doesn't say anything good about you that you would claim membership in a party that is selling out this country for the sake of the uber-rich.

    January 13, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  5. Dont matter

    I love the angry GOP folks on here who simply cannot acknowledge that what Powell says is the ABSOLUTE truth. The party has been in shambles since the Tea Party invasion and will not change until the cancer that is the Tea Party is eradicated. The Tea Party will never ever reach out to minorities because they are nothing but a bunch of close minded racist extremists

    January 13, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. chill485

    Colin, why? I'd been a Republican since 1968 and voted for all the GOP candidates until 1992, when I thought that Clinton was the only one that understood the change to a global economy. I continued to consider Republicans as late as Dole and even McCain in 2000. But once Bush, and even worse the Tea Party and their ilk took over the Party, I just couldn't stomach them anymore. An McConnel put the spike in it when he said their job was to make Obama a one-term President. To me, viscerally, that was treasonous. It was Party over country. I'll never support a national Republican again.

    January 13, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Mr. Mark

    So called Republicans like Powell want to talk about two losing Presidental Campiagns, but don't want to talk about two Winning house elections and the fact Republicans own the majority of the state houses and governership.

    January 13, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  8. downriverdem

    As long as the Repubs stay the angry white man's party the majority of Americans will not give them their vote. We are a much different country than they want to admit or accept. Sad.

    January 13, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. i'malib

    I will only vote the party that gives me free things (phone, food stamps, money etc.) It is not fair that I have to get a job. The rest of you owe me! With that said, I have a football game to watch. The rest of you, get back to work. It is time to pay up.

    January 13, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. dc10

    If you claim that you are still a Republican but voted Democrat since the present GOP party is not the same as your convictions, then you are a sell out and a closet Democrat (but nobody really cares what Powell has to say now). If you are truly sincere, just don't vote rather than voting for someone who is everything but Republican,,,,,

    January 13, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Kevin Kruppenbacher

    Mr. Powell, you sir are in fact a a Democrat. Like a previous poster stated, you in fact did sell out to race instead of qualification. You know deep down that Obama does not belong in the White House. That's 8 years this country has lost and never get back. I too had the utmost respect for you until you showed your true color.

    January 13, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. us_1776

    Hey Colin, please turn out the lights at GOP HQ when you leave.

    Looks like you're going to be the last man.


    January 13, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. truth3210

    Republican? He's either a liar or insane. Someone should pull his gun permit.

    January 13, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    No CBP is voted BLACK....period!!

    January 13, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. Jewels

    For those insulting his choice - perhaps you're overly-sensitive about his decision. And, maybe you need to step back and hear what he's saying. Sure, race was a component but, I think it's obvious the right has gotten too extreme..and. greedy.././

    January 13, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  16. Howard

    Poor Colin. He'll go to his grave waiting for his Republican Party to reclaim the roots it had when he first decided that was where his political allegiances lie. Such a pity, because the Democratic tent is big enough to provide shelter for his views, and it would welcome his efforts to change the core direction of the party, unlike the Republicans who ignored him.

    January 13, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. Bill the Cat

    Yeah... and I'm still 21.

    January 13, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. mij

    And your still a racist too.

    January 13, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    Powell is blameless for voting for President Obama. Even President Reagan would have been too moderate for Tea Party zealots.The party has been taken over by extreme social and fiscal ideologues who do not function well in a political democracy requiring civility and compromise.

    January 13, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. NoBama

    Anyone ... anyone.... would be better than what is in the WH now !

    January 13, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. Dave A.

    Repubes move to the right? Really? They tend to be a bunch of self inerested criminals against women, peace, the planet, public education, latins and blacks..prove me wrong!

    January 13, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. tim

    It doesn't really matter, Colin.

    January 13, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Bob

    Once the GOP drops god as a justification for what they do, they will start to get the upper hand again. Reason has to prevail over the current craziness the GOP spews.

    January 13, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. Hoang

    Now that the election is over, we–all Americans should stand up and support our President and help move our country to the middle!

    January 13, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Reggie from LA

    I get the pride of commitment thing, but anybody willing to come out and publicly embrace the "nowadays GOP", huh? By the way, he didn't vote race. He voted for the better candidate. Didn't Romney's son come out and say the Mitt really didn't want the job so much (so he said anyways)? Mitt hid is money. Minimized his taxes thru loopholes. Put down half the nation, sent jobs overseas, went from moderate to extreme (severe), pandering. Worked for the good of the rich...blah, blah, blah. People say Powell voted race, then Republicans must have voted Republican regardless of Romney's terrible record to get him even close to being the POTUS. You voted Romney? Why?

    January 13, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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