LISTEN: Colin Powell Rebukes GOP Candidates, says You Are ‘Belittling’ the Country and the Presidency

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has a message for the Republican Party: “We have to become more respectful of each other.” 

Speaking on the death of former first lady Nancy Reagan, Powell said he believed she would be “disturbed” by the way her husband’s legacy is invoked by some people today. Powell spoke in an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin on All Things Considered.

Referring to the “civility” and “lack of any nastiness” he saw in Ronald Reagan, Powell, who served as Reagan’s national security adviser, decried the tone of the current Republican presidential campaign. “To stand there and do junior high school tricks on one another is belittling the country and belittling the office to which they are striving,” he said.

Powell added, “Even Jerry Springer thinks it’s gone too far, and when Jerry Springer thinks you’ve gone too far, my friends, you have gone too far.” He was referring to recent remarks in the Financial Times from Springer, who served as the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati in the late 1970s.

As recently as last Fall, Powell insisted that he remains a Republican, even though he supported Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

In both of those campaign years, Powell spoke out critically about the rhetoric of the GOP. “In 2008, I spoke out against calling the president a Muslim as if that was a curse. I don’t know anything in the Constitution that says Muslims are bad,” Powell said.

In 2012, Powell spoke out against “a level of intolerance in some parts of the party — and there was. And I think there still is.”

Powell did not name any specific candidates while laying out his criticism.

There was huge buzz around a possible run by Powell for the GOP nomination in 1996, when he enjoyed immense popularity after serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War.

Powell declined to run and later served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. Powell delivered to the United Nations the administration’s evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which proved faulty. Powell later referred to that episode as a “painful” memory.

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Source: NPR | Arnie Seipel