On Monday’s CBS This Morning former Secretary of State Colin Powell came on the program to discuss the recently passed former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and her relationship with her late husband. Powell to took the opportunity to contrast Ronald Reagan’s “optimistic” presidency with the current GOP’s “nastiness,” that was “running us into the ground.” Unexpectedly, co-anchor Gayle King then called Powell out on if he could still be considered a Republican after endorsing Obama twice."
After discussing Mrs. Reagan’s influence on the President decades prior, co-anchor Norah O’Donnell shifted to modern day and asked Powell what he thought about the current GOP race, in light of Reagan’s philosophy, “Never speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Powell replied:
I think the campaign has gone into the mud. I mean, the comments they are making toward each other, the nastiness, it's running us into the ground. The foreigners of the world looking at this are distressed. I just came back from overseas. I was in Africa. And they are scratching their heads, what is going on? Can't they debate the issues? Politics is arguing and there are debates. But this nastiness, uh they really have to stop it!
He then said he hoped that Nancy Reagan’s death would shame the GOP candidates into behaving like gentlemen, instead of guests on the Jerry Springer Show.
And I hope with Mrs. Reagan's death and the mourning period, we’ll have for the next few days, it might influence these gentlemen to stop with the nastiness get on to the issues. The American people really want to hear about the issues. Let's not make this a reality show. I know— you know you're in trouble when Jerry Springer even thinks it's over the top.
To count the times Powell has loudly and harshly criticized the GOP, it’s a wonder he hasn’t switched parties officially already. Maybe that’s why what happened next was surprising, coming from a liberal journalist.
GAYLE KING: We’ve heard you say that you've endorsed Barack Obama the last two campaigns but I forgot who you said you're endorsing this campaign because you said you're still a Republican? I missed that news conference. Who did you say? [Laughter]
Powell responded that he hasn’t endorsed anyone yet but he puts his party “aside” when it comes to voting for the President of the United States.
POWELL: I haven't had a news conference yet, Gayle. You haven’t missed anything. As I always do, I will watch the campaigns unfold, watch the conventions and um I always vote for the person who I think is best for America at that time. I'm first and foremost an American concerned about this country, deeply in love with this country and political party has to be set aside when I'm deciding who I'm going to vote for as President of the United States.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Powell disavows party allegiance, considering what he thinks about his own party.
For instance, on NBC’s Meet the Press in 2013, Powell famously said there was “a dark vein of intolerance” in the GOP for its criticism of President Obama. The criticism earned him praise from the media along with many more offered opportunities to continue bashing his party on-air.
As a guest on MSNBC in 2014, Powell claimed that the GOP “needed” him, because the party was full of racists who “go out of their way to restrict voting [rights]” of minorities and “demonize people who don’t look like the way they’d like them to look.”
Again in 2014, on CBS This Morning, Powell praised Obama’s lifting of the embargo on Cuba--- a reversal of his position while in George W. Bush’s cabinet.
PS: Powell also launched this attack on National Public Radio, where he called the Republican presidential campaign's "junior high school tricks" "belittling" to the country and to the office they were running for. Powell stated again to NPR:
"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."