- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2009

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he will not leave the Republican Party but added that the GOP has threatened its future by shifting too far to the political right.

“I have always felt that the Republican Party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years,” said Mr. Powell on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “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.”

He said if the party doesn’t expand its “very very narrow base” that it will “watch the world go by.”

“The Republican Party has to take a hard look at itself and decide what kind of party are we,” he said.

But Mr. Powell dismissed criticism by former Vice President Dick Cheney that he was a Republican in name only, and attacks by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh that he should leave the party.

“Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed; I am still a Republican,” Mr. Powell said.

Mr. Powell defended his endorsement last year of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, saying that in five decades of voting in presidential elections he has always backed the person he believed was best qualified to lead the nation.

“Last year I thought it was President-now Barack Obama,” he said.

The former Joint Chiefs chairman also pushed back at accusations from Mr. Limbaugh that he only voted for Mr. Barack because both men are black.

“I thought it was unfortunate,” Mr. Powell said of Mr. Limbaugh’s attacks.

Mr. Powell said he also voted for past Democratic presidential candidates John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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