Colin Powell: 'I Am Still a Republican'
The Former Sec. of State Says Dick Cheney "Misinformed," Only Way to Build GOP Base Is to Attract More Moderates
By RACHEL MARTIN
May 24, 2009
"What we have to do is debate and define who we are and what we are and not just listen to dictates that come down from the right wing of the party," said Powell, who most recently served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and who had been appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
Powell finds himself in the middle of an increasingly bitter family feud over how to bring the GOP back to life. Conservative Republicans are still angry with his endorsement of Barack Obama in last fall's election. But Powell said that he has a solid record of voting for Republican presidents, though he did vote for Democrats John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.
Powell has long been a favorite target of conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh who has urged Powell to "close the loop and become a Democrat."
And former Vice President Dick Cheney recently goaded his former colleague in the George W. Bush administration: "My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."
But during the morning news talk show today, Powell responded to his critics. "Rush will not get his wish. And Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican."
Powell says the GOP needs to attract more moderates, not just for its own sake, but for the sake of the nation, which needs a strong opposition party.
"If we don't do that, if we don't reach out more," said Powell, "the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base. You can only do two things with a base. You can sit on it and watch the world go by, or you can build on the base."