(CNSNews.com) - Gen. Colin Powell, who was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush and secretary of State by the President George W. Bush, said yesterday the Republican Party needs to stop being controlled by the “right wing” if it is going to expand and becoming a viable national party again.
Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he is still a Republican and that until he voted for President Obama in last November’s election he had voted for Republicans in each presidential election starting with the presidential election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Powell also said he voted for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter for president, but he did not say on the program whether he voted for Richard Nixon or his Demcratic opponents, Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern.
In responding to criticism he has received from former Vice President Dick Cheney and radio host Rush Limbaugh, Powell told Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer that some Republican conservatives consider him “too moderate.”
He said his response to that is that the GOP should be “more inclusive.”
“What the concern about me is, well, is he too moderate?” said Powell. “I have always felt that the Republican Party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years. And I believe we need a strong Republican Party that is not just anchored in the base but has built on the base to include more individuals. And if we don't do that, if we don't reach out more, the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base.”
Powell said he believes it is time for the Republican Party to stop listening to “diktats that come down from the right wing of the party.
“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,” said Powell. “And I believe we should build on the base because the nation needs two parties, two parties debating each other. But what we have to do is debate and define who we are and what we are and not just listen to diktats that come down from the right wing of the party."
Powell said the Republican Party has been losing people in all parts of the country, and that he is concerned the party is moving too far “to the right” and thus may be surrendering even the “right-of-center” to independents and Democrats.”
“A Gallup poll had a series of indicators. And in almost every demographic indicator, the Republican Party is losing-north, south, east, west, men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics,” said Powell. “And I think the Republican Party has to take a hard look at itself and decide, what kind of party are we? Are we simply moving further to the right, and by so doing opening up the right-of-center and the center to be taken over by independents and to be taken over by Democrats?”
Powell said he believes that even “right-of-center Republicans are “concerned about the right-wing.
“And if you look at the other statistics that is around these days and the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped significantly, into the low 20s, and among those low 20s, they're not all conservatives,” said Powell. “A lot of them are fairly moderate or right-of-center Republicans who are concerned about the right wing. And they're not that vocal about it, because if you are vocal, you're going to get your voice mail filled up and you're going to get lots of emails, like I did.”