Powell Defends His Differences with Conservatives

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

Corrects title of Gen. Colin Powell

(CNSNews.com) - Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell avoided any mention of abortion in his speech to the Republican National Convention Monday night, but Tuesday morning, on NBC's Today show, he reiterated his pro-choice position.

"I was focusing on young people, education, and I wanted the message to be on inclusion," he said of his Monday night speech to delegates. "I'm still pro-choice. I still believe it's up to a woman, in consultation with her family, her faith and her doctor to decide how to use her body, how her body will be used...but it didn't seem the place to make that argument last night."

Powell said the position on abortion as outlined in the Republican Party Platform - no abortion, no exceptions - is not a position that he would take or that "many, many Republicans would take."

"If it had been my choice, I would have not left it [the abortion language] in the platform," he said. "But the Party has a philosophical position that it is a pro-life party. But I think what we've tried to do in recent years is to say that even with that position as a Party, it doesn't mean that people who feel otherwise should feel uncomfortable in the Party or that their voices should not be heard."

On another divisive topic - the Confederate flag - Powell said he believes it should come down, wherever it may fly. He called the Confederate flag "a symbol of a bygone era."

"It's offensive to African-Americans, it should be offensive to all Americans as a symbol of hate...that we really don't need in 21st century America," he said.

Powell stressed the importance of political choice for minorities, saying that it's not in the best interests of any group to feel beholden to just one party.

"What I would like to see the Republican Party do, is not only substantively put forth an agenda that will appeal to minorities, but also make sure we put forward such an image as well, so that minorities have a choice, and they're not always anticipated to be in one camp as opposed to another.

"When you have a choice in politics, then you have power. Without that choice, you really don't have power," he said.

As for hints that George W. Bush, if he becomes president, might make Powell a key member of his Cabinet, Powell said he "would take under consideration anything that a president asked me to do in service to the nation."