Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that the Republican party is suffering from a “dark vein of intolerance” and that some in the party seem to “look down on minorities.”
Powell pointed to former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s use of the “shuck and jive” phrase in reference to President Obama, calling it a “racial era slave term,” and took on Romney surrogate John Sununu for calling President Obama “lazy.”
“When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy,” Powell said. “He didn’t say he was slow, he was tired, he didn’t do well, he said he was lazy.”
“Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with it,” he said.
Powell also called out to the “birther movement” as another example of Republican bigotry, asking “Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?”
Powell slammed Republicans for more than just rhetoric, slamming the party for the lack of comprehensive immigration policy, “dismissing the 47%,” and for voter suppression efforts.
When pressed on whether or not he’s still a Republican, Powell said, “I’m a moderate but I’m still a Republican, that’s how I was raised. And until I voted for Mr. Obama twice, I had voted for seven straight Republican presidents.”
Powell claims the party has made a “significant shift to the right” in recent years, pointing to that as a reason why it has lost the last two presidential campaigns. “I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed,” he said. ”The country is changing demographically, and if the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they’re going to be in trouble.”
Powell also defended the president’s pick to lead the Department of Defense, calling former Sen. Chuck Hagel “superbly qualified.”
“He knows what war is and he will fight a war if it’s necessary, but he’s a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care,” Powell said.