'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."

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

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. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The man speaks the truth. The GOP doesn't understand (or at least doesn't want to) the change in how the country looks and thinks now.

    January 13, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  2. Riley

    Obviously, he is NOT! He is more of an opportunist. and just maybe a racist...which may explain why he backed Obama, who is clearly the weakest President in recent history.

    January 13, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  3. wert@aol.com

    And yet, he voted for the most liberal, socialistic President in U.S. history, based solely on the color of a persons skin. Colin, you can call yourself Superman, but saying it doesn't make it so. Actually, what you are is a turncoat.

    January 13, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  4. Dave

    down on minorities." And that the party has gone too far to the right. Really, since when? Opposing abortion, supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), opposing illegal immigration, securing the border, fiscal restraint (not always followed), lower taxes for ALL, etc. have always been the planks of the Republican party. I would argue that Powell has gone too far to the left. He has twice voted for Obama. His is a product of affirmative action and owes his successful civilian government career to Republicans like Reagan and both Bushes. Real gratitude! But he is the darling of the liberal media and they love it when he criticizes Republicans.

    January 13, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  5. Rex

    Dude, you're killing us! I didn't know that Colin did stand up comedy!

    January 13, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  6. Noel

    Powell is a turncoat – he is a closet Democrat and voted for color...anyone with eyes (and half a brain) can see this country is dying a quick death with endless spending...we are a joke

    January 13, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. queenbee9

    Given the gross incompetency of both Palin and Romney–many who voted for them would have been voting either race or party and been sellouts...

    January 13, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. dnokc

    C'mon Colin, you are as Republican as Barney Frank. Come on out!

    January 13, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  9. Dark tater

    No Colin ...say it ain't so!

    January 13, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. Anthony in California

    So if he votes intelligently and votes for Obama, he's playing the race card? So he shoulda voted for the dumb white guy his party elected? Oh.. I get it.

    January 13, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  11. JimmyC

    I've almost always voted Republican, but I voted for Obama the last two times. And i'd vote for him again. The Republican party is very screwed up at the moment. Once they get rid of the religious extremists–American Taliban as far as i'm concerned–then maybe Ill come back.

    January 13, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  12. Gordyb102

    The party under discussion is no longer the Republican Party, they have become the obstruction party.

    January 13, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    Methinks he's trying to set himself up as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016!?

    January 14, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  14. Scales of Justice

    African Americans generally oppose gay marriage and abortion which is the bread and butter of the Repulican Party. But Repulican candidates don't campaign at all in African American communities. Why? No signs, no advertisements, no nothing.....Colin Powell is right...the Republican Party has no, none, zilch outreach to AA communities. How do I know? I wrote the Republican National Committee in 1987-88 pointing out the foregoing. Some low level official from Mississippi called me in Texas and explained to me the party would be wasting money to campaign in AA communities. That was the last time I voted for a Republican Presidential candidate. I am a black American who grew up in the racist south, KKK, segregated schools. 1959-1971, ride the bck of the bus, close the city poolmso lacks cant swim, etc era. I tried to give the Republican Party a chance but the party didn't really want my vote....they didn't need it then but now the party does.

    January 14, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  15. B

    Since race may matter to a few in these discussions, I am white. I voted for Obama and I am a registered Republican and I am still a Republican. I have never voted for a Democrat until the 2012 elections. I voted against the Republican Party in the 90’s when I voted for Perot, because I wanted change then. I consider myself fairly educated: BA, BBA, and dual MS degrees. I have worked in the financial markets and public accounting. Voting for Obama was the hardest thing I ever did, but it was the right thing to do. Why was it so hard to vote for Obama? Romney knows more about the markets and the economy than Obama and in many ways he would have made a better President. When things are broken in business it generally at top, e.g., governance, control environment, chairman, president, CEO. This is not the case in politics. The problems originate with us, at the bottom. We are ignorant (including myself), unorganized, and unwilling to change (I don’t count myself here). However, I am confident this will change in the not so distant future. The Republican Party will change and it must change. The Republicans need to come to the center on social issues. I have three daughters (7, 6, and 2) and I am thinking of them. Those of us that decide elections, not your base, are waiting for you. You do not have to alienate your base, but you don’t have to cater to the base. Who is your base going to vote for if you come to the center? I realize the challenge here is getting through the Primaries. Michele Bachman, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and the like have a place in society, but it’s not in leading this great country. Our country needs a new Republican if the old is unwilling to change. We will be waiting.

    January 14, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  16. Waleed75

    Of course I am expecting the comments that blacks only voted for Obama because of race, however they will ignore facts such as the governors race of Ohio in 2006. During that race, Ken Blackwell, the black candidate, only received 20% of the black vote, and Ted Strickland, the white candidate got 77% of the black vote. If what you say is true and blacks simply vote on race, then Ken Blackwell should have easily had at least 70% of the black vote. The fact is, the Republican party have moved very far to the right and have allowed a lot of views into their party that is intolerant of other races. If what I am saying is not true, then Fox would still have a blog on their website, but it had to be shut down due to the out of control racial vitriol.

    January 14, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  17. Getoverit


    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
    Sure there is. Remember, if you didn't vote Obama, then you're a racist...

    January 14, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  18. toddrf

    I'd like for Colin Powell to list the tradition Republican policies that he supports. Everyone in the party knows he's a RINO.

    As for all the talk about the party shifting to the right recently, there a certainly some vocal elements in the party that are far-right, but you'd be hard-pressed to list John McCain and Mitt Romney as far-right.

    January 14, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  19. Larry L

    @Ken from FL

    Yeah, right, General, and I'm the Wizard of Oz. Powell's move to the dark side (and, no, that's not a racial slur, so don't get your knickers in a bunch, you libs) is now complete. Yeah, obviously the GOP looks down on minorities: that's why we have the first black Republican Senator from SC since reconstruction, and why one of my senators is a Cuban-American. It's the Dems who insist on keeping the African Americans and Hispanics in plantation servitude (remember Harry Reid's comment? Obama doesn't sound like a black man). Yeah, we GOPers are clearly the evil ones.
    One of your Senators is a coconut and the one from South Carolina an Oreo. You tolerate tokens – not diversity. Remember the many racist signs and slogans at the Tea Party rallies? Did you see the photo shoot from the RNC? It was a sea of angry, overweight, fearful white people. Did you hear the NASCAR fans boo Michelle Obama as she talked about the Wounded Warrior's families (twice)? How many right-wingers use the term "Obammie"? How many of you are STILL birthers? How many still refer to our President as that Muslim from Kenya? What terms do you use when you alone? Really?

    January 14, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  20. Mr. Mark

    I would like to know what Mr. Powell means when he says he is still a republican? Does he believe in limited government? The right of the unborn. I really don't want to argue with him. I just want to know why he says he is a republican?

    January 14, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  21. Peten

    I think the first thing was he voted color,also the democratic party is very good in their demonaztion of people who disagree with them, or have conflicting views. Most people really don't care about this same sex marriage, just get out of their face. Illegal immigration thing is blown out of proportion. Repubican party dosen't want to kill grandma, they don't kill unborn children! for the most part they want people to stand up, get up and be productive members of our amazing country. We have a president that has really never worked, has never made payroll, that has written a book about a father who abandoned him and ignored the white mom the white grandparents who raised him, put food in his belly and a roof over his head. Powell can say whatever, but the bottom line is he voted skin. It's kinda like McNabb making the statement he voted the first time for Obama, this is a millionaire football player who I believe will be broke soon because he is in it for the short run, his mom will probably be taking care of him with soup

    January 14, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  22. revolting peasant

    I think it is weird that people profess loyalty to a political party. People should think more and politicians should do more than vote their party line.

    January 14, 2013 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  23. Jim

    Whites are afraid of minorities. If you don't count minorities (except Asians) the US crime rate is about the same as that in western Europe. Blacks kill and rape at much higher rates than whites. A white man raping a black woman is almost unknown in this country. High black percentages in a community mean crime, vandalism, high dropout rates in schools, and plummeting housing prices. Blacks often demand more welfare, affirmative action and a political correctness that ignores their crime rate. Yes General Powell, whites do fear blacks. Yes, you did well, although affirmative action jumped you over the heads of many superiors in the Army because you were a "presentable" black man who looked good standing behind a white president. I think you have a lot of good things to say and agree that the Rpublican party needs to change direction. But whites justifiably fear blacks.

    January 14, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. ABC

    @San Juaninos Ok San why did whites vote for Obama? Way to pull the race card.

    January 14, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  25. Geordie

    For the last 12 years and now for another 4 years you have elected Presidents who were not qualified nor did they have the experience to lead your country.
    And you wonder why your country is in such a mess.??

    January 14, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8