'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. USAPeasant

    Drop Hamas supporter Hagel and appoint Powell Sec. of Defense. Powell is a moderate, pragmatic, and experienced military leader who will stand by our allies. He has stood by Obama despite sharp criticism from his own Party. Powell should be Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State. Kerry and Hagel are buffoons.

    January 14, 2013 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  2. Michael

    All well and good, Mr. Powell, and I respect you. But why don't you step up, then, and play the leadership role that you could play? You could be a MAJOR force in helping the Republican Party regain its identity, and many people (including me) have wished over the years that you would run for President.

    We need your leadership, Mr. Powell...sometimes one needs to step up and play the role they were destined to play, and now is your time.

    January 14, 2013 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  3. luke,az

    Waiting for the Republican party to explode into 3 groups;moderates,evangelicals and tea partiers , add a fourth group,the ron paulies.

    January 14, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  4. James

    At best he let himself be used as a patsy; at worst he intentionally sold a pack of lies to the American people about Iraq and cost the lives of thousands of US soldiers. I don't care what he has to say about anything now.

    January 14, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. WL

    Who says anyone has to always agree? The republican party has morphed it is not the party of Lincoln or The People. Conservatives are in the Democratic party but that doesn't infer that it is a majority.The good old boy system of watching each others back has got to go I would like to see independent thinkers who offer solutions not gridlock.We need Representatives of the People not financed agendas...

    January 14, 2013 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  6. Chris C

    The Republican party needs intellectual leadership who knows how to articulate positions and has a wide understanding of every issue. New ideas and a new message delivered by totally new people is necessary.

    January 14, 2013 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  7. Mike

    Excuses, excuses. Even if the republican party has shifted to the right as you say, you vote for a candidate from the extreme left and you considered yourself a republican? No way Jose.
    The demographic has changed all right. But at election time, we all should vote as american, regardless of race, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc, etc. So no matter what you say, you are a traitor not just to the republican party, but also to your country. We all know why you vote for Obama. And I used to be a big fan of yours

    January 14, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  8. Woody

    CBP... who are you kidding? Powell voted for Obama because of his race, no ther reason. It has nothing to do with the Republican party being shifted so far the the right wing. He voted for Obam the exact same reason every other AA that voted did.

    January 14, 2013 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  9. Quixote

    With all due respect Mr Powell, what you describe as a Republican no longer exists in the republicon party of 2013. You are what is today a conservative Democrat. Since we no longer have liberalism, actual liberalism not the ceneter right politics that we today call liberalism, in the Democratic party, the Eisenhower Republicans, even most regan rpublicons, now fall under the big tent of the Democratic party.

    I wish you well in retaking your hijakced party from the crazies on the extremist fringe, but dont hold your breath. Driving saddam out of Kuwait is childs play next to heaving the lunatics out of the gop today.

    January 14, 2013 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  10. What1

    Anyone that endorses Obama is not a Republican. That just does not make any sense.

    January 14, 2013 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  11. computerperson

    Colin Powel is a racist, pure and simple. He has used the Republican party to become rich, powerful and famous and the minute a person of color is introduced into the mix, he changes his stripes and vote. Racism at its most obvious. Anyone who read Obama's books couldn't possibly vote for him as you know exactly what kind of man he is and what kind of president he would be. Colin Powell, don't even try to kid this world into thinking you are something other what you are, obviously....

    January 14, 2013 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  12. an American

    The general is right. The Republican Party has become the party of exclusion. The extreme right has decreed that if if one does not conform to their doctrine, then they are RINO.

    January 14, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  13. Marie MD

    It's not an identity problem. The re thugs want to control everything and everyone both at the federal and state levels and they have started quietly doing in the state level already.
    They will NEVER accept those "not like them". They can try and they can lie to be elected but I hope the US citizens wake up to the fact that they will NEVER change their ways.

    January 14, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  14. Kenneth

    Wow ... the man voted his conscience and some people throw out the "Oh he only voted for Obama because he is black" card. really. Okay before Colin Powell voted for President Obama he was the Great Black hope to most Caucasian Americans. Now that he refused to vote for John McCain / Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan he is all of a sudden a "sell out race baiter"? really?? Politics is about making our own decisions and voting who we believe will take America to the next level. It's all a crap shoot but when it is obvious that certain people running for the highest office in America are self serving or wanting to serve for a "portion" of the Republic vice the entirety of society then why not break with party affiliation? I believe Colin Powell still has Republican values just not "EXTREME" Republican values. I can respect ANY person who stands for what they believe and has the guts to speak his mind without concern for repercussions from the people he has aligned himself with. Colin Powell is a natural leader and those who cannot recognize that simply need to remove their blinders.

    January 14, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  15. mike_nnh

    the republicans saying he's not miss the point. he is any you don't even have his vote or mine. i've been a republican for 34 years i also voted for Obama the last 2 elections. i was voting Mccain until the Palin freak show, Romney can't show his taxes and defend himself. as soon as the party can nominate people who will get something done i'll be back

    January 14, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  16. lmreed

    Stop calling yourself a republican – tell the truth. You voted for Obama because he is BLACK. There would be no other reason for a so called REPUBLICAN to vote for him. How did he become a general ??-He has no balls, try telling the truth for a change Powell.

    January 14, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  17. Rick

    You're a RINO, and nobody cares if you just call yourself a democrat

    January 14, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  18. Sane Person

    Sorry Colin, you arent the right type of person for the real republican party. They prefer someone less forward thinking and.. lighter.

    January 14, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  19. Jack V

    Face the facts, the Republican party is so extreme that they are relegating themselves to the dust bin of history.

    January 14, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  20. Dave

    Sorry Powell, No you're not. Call yourself whatever you'd ike, but that doesn't make it true.....

    January 14, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  21. Dave

    @CBP, Hows that working out for you now. bet youre the only American in the country that made more this paycheck than last year......

    January 14, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  22. TAG

    He is a republican until the democrat is black. Defend all you want, but he would have been kicked out of the african-american race had he been a man and backed the republican.

    January 14, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  23. Robert

    If Colin Powell votes for Obama, its just because he is black? Wow, how simple can you people be? He just gave his reason for why he voted for Obama. Repubs are too far to the right on too many issues.

    January 14, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  24. Gary, Hunt Valley, Md.

    I only wish that General Powell had used his huge popularity to oppose the Iraq War and expose the lies the Bush administration concocted to make their phony case for an illegal invasion and occupation of a country that had NEVER HARMED A SINGLE AMERICAN. Hell, Powell sat there before the U.N. and followed orders (like a good soldier) by telling the lie about the so-called chemical and nuclear "threats" America was facing from Saddam. Powell is a great American, but he missed a chance to change history, all in the name of being a good, loyal soldier.

    January 14, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  25. FRANKO12

    This man is a disgrace to the party!! You can say whatever you want Powell just as I can but your actions speak louder than words you are democrat through and through and If I was a high ranking GOP'er I would tell you we dont dont want people such as you in our party so go th the other side where you belong!!! What a liar!!!!

    January 14, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
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