Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the Republican Party has shifted much further right than the rest of the country — and GOP leaders must get its fringe members in line.
During an appearance at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday, Powell said it “should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national-level election in the future, not just in 2016.”
Powell said Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s controversial plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants is not reflective of the rest of the party’s position.
“I don’t agree that it’s the Republican position on immigration,” Powell said. “I think most Republicans understand that we need immigration, we are an immigrant nation [and that] it is in our best interest to do it. But … there are pockets of intolerance within the Republican Party, [and] the Republican Party had better figure out how to defeat that.”
The 78-year-old former secretary of state, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Jamaica, said immigration is part of this country’s DNA.
“I think the American people have to understand that we are an immigrant nation,” Powell said. “It is our history. It is our tradition. If you look at what immigrants have done in this country — we have been built on the backs on immigrants.”
Powell, who said he tries to stay out of politics, nonetheless offered the real estate mogul some advice: “If I was around Mr. Trump — Donald, who I know rather well — I would say, ‘You know, Don, let’s see what happens. Let’s tell all the immigrants working in Trump hotels to stay home tomorrow.’”
“Are you kidding me?” he continued. “These are first-generation American immigrants who will raise children who will go up to higher things. They’re not mopping floors and waiting tables so their children can do the same. It’s that immigrant tradition — get started and the next generation will be better, and the generation after that will be even better.”
Powell called for a “sensible immigration policy to bring these people out of the black.”
“Yes, I’m still a Republican,” Powell added. “I want to continue to be a Republican because it annoys them.”
Colin Powell speaks at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)