'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. clakjak

    Powell I used to respect you, but now you are starting to sound like Sharpton with the racial stuff.

    January 13, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. plain&simple

    A voice of reason has no chance in the party now known as haters,segregationists,isolationists,obstructionists....and they are damn proud of it too! Powell will have to join Huntsman,Hagel and other moderate thinking Republicans to take their party back. Arrogance comes before the fall and that arrogance is obvious in many of these posts.

    January 13, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  3. michele

    I too always voted Republican until the last 2 elections.....just voted for Obama this last time. Republicans and FOX News just got to me too much...

    January 13, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. Kevin H

    I was a Republican in the 1980's – in fact I was very active. I believed in fiscal conservationism and liberal social agendas. Today the GOP has shifted so far to the right that fascism is not far off. This isn't about media manipulation this is about a wholesale sellout to the Tea Party and to interests like the Koch brothers. The result is a really nasty brand of conservatism that has a hollow resemblance to that which I remember. I disagreed with the Bible thumpers and the anti-women's rights people – but I knew that when matters came to wise use of resources – we were one. We could talk about the right size for a military, we could discuss entitlements intelligently, we could talk about a government which we hoped would serve America better. We also could hope to enact legislation that favored the middle class, the working class, the laborer. We believed children should be care for and some of us believed in woman's rights, some reproductive rights. But all that was wiped out. George W. Bush let in a very nasty type of conservative. One that had lived on the fringes of the GOP but was largely ignored. No more. These people are now the power elite. They're clueless, they're selfish, self-absorbed and dishonorable. These people aren't about opportunity for others they're about number one. Perhaps I was naïve or perhaps they were always that way and I wanted to believe otherwise. I place little faith in the DNC for many reasons – I'm not Communist nor Socialist – as some would believe. What I am is someone who thinks that we're Americans and that we borrow the best ideas and make them our own. We have lost our soul as a country. I hope we'll find it again.

    January 13, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  5. Danko Ramone

    Why remain Republican? He doesn't agree with the shift to the right, he doesn't agree with what has become their platform. The Republican party he sees himself as a member of no longer exists.

    January 13, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. scar69

    He voted strictly by race, just as most blacks did. They didn't care of who he is or what he stands for. Just the fact the he is black, he got their vote. Obama sucks up the latino's, promising them green cards and everything under the sun. Secure the border. Round up the illegals and drop them back off in Mexico.

    January 13, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. bellarue

    You are dreaming if you think the Republican party is going to change for anyone or anything. They don't have it in them.

    January 13, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  8. works4me

    I like Powell... he votes what he believes is right and didn't lick the sack of the GOP. Good for him!

    January 13, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Ambrose Smith

    GOPers are trashing Powell but I guarantee if he decided to run they would vote for him in droves.

    January 13, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. FedUpInSeattle

    In regards to Powell accusing the GOP of using racist code words. I know for a fact that there are just as many racist Democrats as Republicans. Its just does not fit the Liberal narrative to bring that up.

    In March 5, 2008 James Atticus Bowden wrote an article that was in response to the media and the Left criticizing the Right for using Obama’s full name Barak Hussein Obama as an attempt to marginalize Obama as a Muslim. To keep it honest I do believe there are those that wrongly believe that Obama is a secret Muslim hell bent on destroying America from within and there is some truth to the Full Name argument but what Mr. Bowden also wrote in that article was quite prophetic. He said the following:

    Get ready for the new narrative. "People oppose Obama only because he is black. Only racists oppose a black candidate. Everyone who opposes Obama is a racist."

    Only anti-Muslim bigots oppose a Muslim candidate. Everyone who opposes Obama is a religious bigot."

    Now that we have had a taste of 4 years of President Obama, I guess we are going to get 4 more years of this foul tasting excuse of a debate. If you don’t LOVE Obama for believing that the people paying 86% of all Federal Taxes aren’t paying their share and that only criminals should have guns well the only explanation is that “YOU ARE A RACIST”

    January 13, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  11. Ed1

    Then you need to start acting like one and don't vote for color vote what the person has done and in this case nothing but spend what you don't have and now he is blaming Congress for his failure and he is starting out the same way now spend us broke and enforce only the jaws he wants to.

    January 13, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. Skeptacular

    My, my, my. You right wing ideologues, in disparaging one of the most respected and respectable members of your party mindlessly marginalize your ideas and party better than your opponents ever could. If I were a cynic, I'd encourage you to continue voicing your 'ideals' such as they are. They produce the most fervent understanding of how and why Democrats (by no means a perfect party) are so authoritatively in charge. Me me....I'd rather you evolve. I believe in America's checks and balances. However, as long as your horde does not, I doubt you'll experience many more advances at the cost of the moderate American public.

    January 13, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. Thomas

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


    Dude , Dick Cheney Loves you !

    January 13, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  14. Andrew

    That is too bad, because you have to be in a deep state of delusion to still be Republican.

    January 13, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Rob

    So if he was white and voted for Romney would he put race before country. Romney was a horrible gov. His record proved it. He was a horrible business man for the people his record showed that to. CNN don't sell out and not post this. As with many of you who say this crap it's about race and nobody want to admit it.

    January 13, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. Bartholomew

    This guy is not a Republican. Voting for Obama and saying you are a Republican is like someone saying there not racist b/c they have black friends, or someone saying that want more gun control but try to justify themselves to other gun owners by saying they are hunters and own guns themselves.

    If he was to be a Democrat he becomes a nobody, just a past Sec. of State. Nobody would care what he would say. But by claiming hes a Republican he will always have a platform and 15 seconds of attention from those that want to try to demoralize the right.

    January 13, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. A

    Look, I'm going to share with you a fact that's tip-top secret: there are a bunch of straight-up racists in this country. Not the way "everyone's a little bit racist," but flat-out racist. It's a big chunk of the population, and it's concentrated in the South.

    From about 1860-1948, they were almost universally Democrats. They struggled to find a home in liberal postwar society, so we had splinter movements like the Dixiecrats and the Wallace voters. Nixon and then Reagan spoke to them very skillfully in code: the anti-hippie culture clash, the unthoughtful militaristic attitude, all this welfare stuff.

    That entire chunk of the American populace is now snugly settled in to the Republican party. You don't need a Poli Sci degree to figure this stuff out. Just look at electoral maps of the country from the slavery days on up until now. It's a basic fact of our system.

    January 13, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. Dave

    Still a race traitor

    January 13, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. scott

    If colin thinks obama is a better president than romney would have been then he is probably not really a republican.

    As a republican he lied to the united nations. As a democrat he is a respected military leader and public srevant.

    As a black man he was an uncle tom republican. As a black man he is an independent minded democrat.

    Maybe hes just a hypocrite.

    January 13, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Neal010

    Really with backers like him no wonder the republicans are losing.

    January 13, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. JAW

    Colin Powell is absolutely correct. During the campaign, Mr. Romney and the rest of the far right managed to alienate just about every segment of the population except rich white males. They lost the women, Hispanics, blacks, the poor, gays... you name it, they lost it. And they still haven't learned their lesson. More than 150 House Republicans voted against the fiscal cliff bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, and 67 voted against Sandy relief (passed unanimously in Senate), even with the "pork" taken out. The Tea Party does not want to help govern. It wants to obstruct. I have been a registered Republican for nearly 30 years and what the Tea Party is doing not only to the party, but to the country, sickens me. If they keep this up, Democrats will take control of the House in two years.

    January 13, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Zane

    America has ALREADY changed demographically, and the Republican Party remains the party of rich old white men.The biggest problem with the Republican Party is their insistence on making conservative social reform a top priority.

    Republicans will never be able to legislate morality, get abortion banned, remove gays from the military, deport large numbers of illegal immigrants, ban birth control, redefine rape, get rid of taxes for millionaires, etc., etc.

    The irony is – if the Republican Party changes its stance on any of these issues, then it won't be the Republican Party anymore.

    January 13, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  23. Jax Milder

    He is nothing more than a RINO. Do us a favor and just fully join the other side we do not need rats among us.

    January 13, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. Doc Ock

    Wow, here's a guy who has served his country, attained the rank of General, has served in government....and he's being accused of "voting for race"? The man has done more for his country than anyone posting here. Last time I checked, the US was a democracy and you can vote for whoever you want to.
    He is like many of the GOP and independents who are moderates and are against the insanity that the Republican party has been gripped by. The Tea Party, Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, the extreme right out of touch social policies and the iron grip of the bible belt....these things have turned moderates off.

    January 13, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  25. Proud Independent

    And even though I eat meat every week I'm still a vegetarian.

    January 13, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
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