Former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who split with the Republican Party to endorse President Barack Obama two times — said Sunday there are some clearly racial elements within the GOP.
“There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” Powell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.”
While not mentioning former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu by name, Powell referenced past comments from each about Obama as evidence of racism in the party.
“When I see a former governor say the president is ‘shuckin’ and jivin’,’ that’s a racial-era slave term,” Powell said. Palin used the term to describe Obama’s response to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
“When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well say that the president was ‘lazy,’” Powell continued. “He didn’t say he was slow, he was tired, he didn’t do so 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.”
Powell also decried the so-called birther movement, asking, “Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?”
“I think the party has to take a look at itself,” Powell said, naming health care, immigration, the poor and climate change. “There are a lot of things the American people are expecting, and the Republican Party as they get ready for the next election really has to focus on some of these issues and not ignore them.”
He added, “If it’s just going to represent the far right-wing of the political spectrum, I think the party’s in difficulty. I’m a moderate, but still a Republican.”