Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that some of his colleagues in the Republican Party have used insulting racial code to attack President Obama — and the comments have seriously damaged the party's standing with minorities.
Mr. Powell, who served in the George W. Bush administration, singled out — but did not mention by name — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, who also served in the last Republican White House.
Mrs. Palin in October described Mr. Obama's handling of the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as a "shuck and jive shtick," and Mr. Sununu raised eyebrows the same month when he described the president's poor first debate performance as "lazy."
The comments came across as racially intolerant, said Mr. Powell, the nation's first black secretary of state.
"I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is to take a very hard look at itself," he said in an interview on "Meet the Press."
Despite backing Mr. Obama in the last two presidential elections, Mr. Powell said he still considers himself a Republican, but the party has drifted too far to the right, he said.
Appearing on the program to defend the White House's nomination of another estranged Republican, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, as secretary of defense, Mr. Powell unloaded on the hawks in the GOP questioning Mr. Hagel's qualifications.
Republican lawmakers, he said, should note that "they've lost two elections. The American people have made it clear that they are not particularly interested in finding new conflicts to get into."
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