During NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell attacked his own Republican party for its outdated views on race. Powell criticized many GOP policies, and referenced a “dark vein of intolerance” that runs through the party. He raised questions about veteran Republican leaders who allow party members like Sarah Palin to use inflammatory racial language, such as “shuck and jive.”
“The Republican party needs to take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed,” he said. “If they don’t change, they are going to be in trouble.”
Powell also defended the nomination of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel for defense secretary, describing Hagel as “superbly qualified.” Powell expects Hagel to be confirmed, but was disapproving of the events and rumors surrounding the nominations of U.S. ambassador Susan Rice and Hagel for cabinet positions.
“I think it was not handled well,” Powell said of the nomination process. “One of the problems, both with Ambassador Rice and with Chuck Hagel, these sort of signals come out that, ‘This is who we are thinking about.’ And you’re left out there to dangle for weeks. Well, if this is who you’re going to nominate, nominate them, and let’s get on with the process.”
Both Powell and Hagel earned purple hearts for their service in the U.S. Army. Powell thoroughly endorsed Hagel on Meet the Press, and denied criticisms of Hagel’s stance on Israel and Iraq, saying that Hagel would respect the policies of the Obama administration. The former secretary of state endorsed President Barack Obama during both of his campaigns.
Beyond Powell, several Congress members have said they expect Hagel to be confirmed. Speaking to Fox News, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said, “I think Sen. Hagel will be approved, and I think the history of nominees shows, and I think his own qualifications also demonstrate, that he has the capacity.”