Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called on the Republican Party to “get a grip” and criticized American foreign policy as “a shambles” last week.
Powell, a retired four-star general who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush, and national security advisor to Ronald Reagan, leaned toward Democratic candidates in recent years, expressing support for President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
When talking publicly about Donald Trump over the last few years, Powell has spoken in measured terms, saying in 2016 that he had decided to vote for Clinton because he felt that she was more qualified and later expressing concern on CNN that Trump might not be able to be a moral leader. However, he called then-candidate Trump a “national disgrace” in an email with a former aide that was hacked and leaked online.
Speaking at a lecture with CNN columnist Fareed Zakaria and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright on Oct. 1, Powell criticized Republicans, calling on the Party to “get a grip on itself.”
“They need to get a grip, and when they see things that aren’t right they need to say something about it. Because our foreign policy is a shambles right now, in my humble judgement. And I see things happening that are hard to understand,” Powell said.
He said that Republicans were “terrified” and concerned that they could lose a primary.
At the Oct. 1 lecture, Powell referred to an incident in September where President Trump displayed a hurricane weather map that appeared to have been crudely altered by hand to contradict the current weather forecast.
“In my time, in her time, one of us would have gone to the President and said, ‘you screwed up.’ So we’ve got to fix it, and we’ll put out a correction. You know what happened this time? They ordered the Commerce Department to go out and back up whatever the President has said,” Powell said. “This is not the way the country is supposed to run, and Congress is one of the institutions that should be doing something about this. All parts of Congress. The media has a role to play. We all have a role to play. We’ve got to remember that all these pieces are part of our government: Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court and the fourth estate. And we have to remember the Constitution started with ‘we the people,’ not ‘me the President.’”
Powell appeared to hesitate to call himself a Republican at the lecture, noting that he had not been affiliated with a party during his military career.
“I’m a moderate Republican who believes we should have a strong foreign policy, a strong defense policy, but we have to look out for our people. And ought to work hard to make sure we’re one country, one team. And so on that basis, I called myself a Republican,” Powell said.