This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 29, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: So General, I'd like you to be very specific and I'd like you to be very brutal tonight about the Republican Party. What is it that you object to mostly that caused you to vote for President Obama twice?
POWELL: I voted for the President twice because, first and foremost, I didn't think that the economic plans put forward by the campaign in 2008 or 2012 really were suited for the times we were in. So I had an economic reason to do that.
Secondly, I became a Republican officially in 1995 after I decided not to run. And I have voted previously seven straight times for Republican candidates. I've spoken at the 1996 convention, the 2000 convention. I worked for Reagan. I worked for Weinberger. I worked for Nixon as a White House fellow. So I think my credentials are fine.
But in the last several years I have been troubled by the right-shift of the Republican Party, too far to the right. And I've said this on a number of occasions. And so in 2008 I found that as an American the best choice for America at that time, and continuing in 2012, was Senator Obama and then now President Obama, re-elected.
O'REILLY: Ok. Now here's what perplexes me. You're an analytical man would you say that's correct?
POWELL: Yes, well, I try to be.
O'REILLY: All right. President Obama's economic plan hasn't worked among African-Americans. When you voted for him, 12.7 unemployment. December 2012, a month after you voted for him again, 14 percent unemployment, up. Ok. Hasn't worked.
Income, black income $32,000 compared to white, 55,000. Gone down under President Obama, hasn't worked. So you basically said to yourself, I'm still going to support the guy even though his economic policies haven't worked for African-Americans and pretty much anyone else?
POWELL: Why are you only seeing me as an African-American, Bill? That troubles me. I --
O'REILLY: Because you did cite, you did cite it.
POWELL: I'm an American.
O'REILLY: No, I know that. But you cited it in some of your criticisms. You said, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the disengagement of the Republican Party from the minority community, blacks and Hispanics, troubled you.
POWELL: The economic situation in the country has improved, but not enough. And --
O'REILLY: Not for African-Americans.
POWELL: I'm not speaking --
O'REILLY: -- not for minorities.
POWELL: I'm not speaking as an African-American. I'll come to the minority part of my criticism in a moment.
But we have seen a doubling of the stock market. The financial system has stabilized. The economy is starting to improve. I want to see it improve even faster and in a broader sense so that those who are at the lower end of the economic scale, including African-Americans, Latino- Americans and others, can start to come up.
Ultimately those numbers that you just cited are going to be fixed by an improving economy and an economy that's spread out more. And more and more African-Americans will benefit and Latino Americans, if they also get the education needed for the more demanding jobs.
O'REILLY: You seem to be voting again on hope in `12 because we haven't seen an economic improvement in this country very much. And in addition, the big spending policies of the Democratic Party and the President have driven the debt, as you know, to close to $17 trillion. And he's the biggest spending president in history.
But you said something very interesting. The education, we spend more per capita on education than any other country in the world except Switzerland, all right? So it isn't the money. But the money continues to flow. It's the discipline. It's the disintegration of the family structure, all of the things that the Republican Party and the conservative movement are emphasizing.
Yet you have drifted away from them. And I'm saying to you, it's not about money and education, am I wrong?
POWELL: It is money and education, but it's more fundamental than that. Now with respect to some of the things that I've been saying that have been critical of the party, is that I don't think the party recognizes the fundamental demographic changes that are taking place in the country.
In one more generation, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino/Hispanic Americans will be the majority of the country. And we have to educate those youngsters for the positions of leadership that they are going to occupy.
O'REILLY: You don't think that's being done now?
POWELL: And I don't -- I don't think it's being done adequately. And the important point I've been making is we have to understand that if you want these people to come to the Republican side, you can't have immigration policies that affect them in a negative way.
O'REILLY: Ok. But -- do you believe in amnesty.
POWELL: One more point. One more point. One more point.
O'REILLY: all right. Go ahead, go ahead.
POWELL: You can't have policies that try to make it harder for minorities to vote. I think one of the most terrible things that happened in the past election season is when we had a number of states that were going out of their way, claiming there was outright fraud, when there really wasn't any fraud to be of concern to us.
But we were doing things to -- making it more difficult for those people to vote.
O'REILLY: I want to get very micro on this.
POWELL: Well, but you're --
O'REILLY: Voter ID -- wait, wait, wait.
POWELL: Go ahead.
O'REILLY: The voter ID, you object to showing an identification card when you vote?
POWELL: No. Of course not.
O'REILLY: Well, that's all the Republican Party wanted. That's all they wanted is the voter ID.
POWELL: I object to putting in place additional levels of voter ID that --
O'REILLY: One, show one.
POWELL: -- disenfranchise, disenfranchise those of our fellow citizens. I want to see a Republican Party that, rather than trying to make it more difficult to vote and restricting the number of days and hours you can vote, a Republican Party that says we want everybody to vote and we're going to give you a reason to vote for us.
O'REILLY: All right. But I don't --
O'REILLY: I don't know if asking for an ID is trying to restrict the vote -- I mean, I'm sorry. You should be able to prove who you are before you cast a ballot.
POWELL: No, you should be able to prove who you are when you register to vote. And when you make the proper registration and identify yourself, you shouldn't have to go to some higher level which is going to restrict some.
O'REILLY: But surely you know how fraud is committed. I mean Boston, in Chicago, you register and then you show up and it's not you.
POWELL: I have not seen any study that says fraud is a problem of such significance that these kinds of procedures were in place. And I'm glad to see that Governor Scott in Florida has recently said he is turning this back over to his -- his local communities to handle.
O'REILLY: All right. I just think showing an ID to vote is the bare minimum.
O'REILLY: You objected to Sununu, who was the biggest Mitt Romney surrogate, you know, during the campaign. Sununu called President Obama lazy. Now you know Sununu. You've known him for a long time. You don't think Sununu is a racist, do you?
POWELL: No. Did I call -- I didn't call him a racist. I said --
O'REILLY: No, but you said that that wording sends the code.
POWELL: It does. It does.
O'REILLY: But you just said -- in his opinion he was lazy on an issue. It wouldn't matter if he was white, purple, or green.
POWELL: He said he was lazy after the first debate. And he said it a couple of times.
O'REILLY: So what?
POWELL: It's -- well, let me finish, I'll tell you so what. It so shocked the person who was interviewing him. And they said, do you really want to use that word, knowing? But John said other things that were troubling.
He said, you know, the President wasn't a real American. What is that supposed to mean to somebody? What do you mean he's not a real American? Of course he is.
O'REILLY: But it was in the heat of the campaign. He's a partisan. I'm not defending Sununu's choice of words. I'm not.
O'REILLY: All right?
POWELL: All right. Good.
O'REILLY: I'm not defending it. But I'm saying to you, I know Sununu. You know Sununu. He's not a racist. So why even bring it -- just say he was foolish to bring it that way.
POWELL: Let me tell you why. Let me tell you why.
O'REILLY: All right.
POWELL: I wouldn't call -- I would never call John a racist. And he used some very poorly chosen words, in my judgment. And I think he might agree with it in retrospect.
POWELL: But you have to understand the impact this has on minorities throughout our country. And if you want to appeal to these people, if you want to bring them to the Republican Party and give them a reason to vote Republican, you have to avoid this kind of language which can infuriate people and cause them to go vote.
O'REILLY: I agree that there has to be a thought put out to reach out to those precincts. But I didn't think, with all due respect, General and you know I respect you, that making a racial issue out of a Sununu, who is a blatant partisan, was the right thing to do.
And you did it with Sarah Palin with the "shucking and jiving" stuff. You know Governor Palin is a performer. She is performing for her crew. She's not a racist.
POWELL: I didn't call her -- you know, you keep saying that, but I didn't use it. The word -- the term --
O'REILLY: But that was the context of your remarks, were put there.
POWELL: I know. And the term -- you keep saying they were appealing to their base, they were speaking to their people. I think they have to speak to a larger group of people for the Republican Party to get back on the right track --
O'REILLY: And that's a valid point.
POWELL: I think the --
O'REILLY: But you understand the point I'm making though.
POWELL: I know the point you're making.
O'REILLY: You -- right so you're remarks were taken, then, and branded on the GOP, the Republican Party, they're a bunch of racists, they don't care about the minorities, blah, blah, blah. And you know that's not true.
POWELL: It was mostly -- I know that's not true. But I'm telling you there is this vein of intolerance within the party. When you say, you know, let's "self-deport" people, "47 percent," there are a lot of things the party has to look in the mirror at and say, is this who we want to be?
O'REILLY: I've got two more questions for you. Number one, you being who you are, a traditional guy, wounded in Vietnam, served his country, patriot guy, by supporting as actively as you did Barack Obama, you also put yourself in a category of intolerance on issues like entitlement culture, when you yourself were born in the south Bronx and you made it on your own. The entitlement culture now extends to 50 percent of the American homes, all right? Huge rise in it.
So you're putting yourself in that bracket by supporting the Democratic Party through Barack Obama, who, it seems, their values are different than yours, General.
POWELL: Yes, I was raised in the south Bronx, but I can assure it was Social Security that kept my parents in respectable comfort after they had retired and they paid into that. And so --
O'REILLY: But that's not means-tested. You're not -- that's not what I'm talking about.
POWELL: Oh, I would get -- I would have means-testing in a heartbeat. In fact, I should be means-tested. I think there are a lot of things we could with entitlement reform. I think there are lots of areas in our government where we can take a hard look: entitlement reform, other areas, and there are ways to cut the budget.
O'REILLY: Ok. But the president isn't doing that.
POWELL: Now remember one thing --
O'REILLY: He is --
POWELL: -- remember one thing --
O'REILLY: He is the spender.
POWELL: -- remember one thing, Bill, it is the Congress that passes appropriations bills that pays for the bills that we have incurred and creates the debt.
O'REILLY: All right yes, but you know Barack Obama is behind the big- spending juggernaut.
Now this is a rude question and I'm sorry to have to ask it. You ready? This is the scuttlebutt in Washington on the Republican side. They say -- it has been said to me by more than one, that you're angry with the Republicans because they made you look bad in the weapons of mass destruction deal during the Iraq war.
I don't believe that. I have to go on the record and say I don't believe that that is what's motivating you. I think you're genuinely a sincere guy, an American who sees it the way you see it. I disagree in some areas, I agree in others.
But this is around. That Cheney and these guys, you didn't like them, you had no use for Cheney. You had no use for this war. You did what they asked you to do. It turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction. And you held that.
You want to comment on it?
POWELL: That's a bunch of nonsense. I presented the information that we all had from the intelligence community. And when I went to the U.N., it was the assurance of the CIA that the information I had was correct.
Mr. Cheney used that same information. The President did. All of our commanders thought it was correct. And we all were saying so. The Congress voted on the basis of that information --
O'REILLY: Sure. Absolutely. And I did too.
POWELL: -- four months earlier.
POWELL: Before I spoke. And so I made a choice based on the information I had. And I don't have to answer idiotic questions like that one about --
O'REILLY: All right.
POWELL: -- whether I'm mad at somebody.
O'REILLY: I appreciate it, General. That wasn't too bad, was it?
POWELL: I had a good time. Invite me back, Bill. Don't forget to send the --
O'REILLY: General listen, I salute you, man. You know me, I think you're a patriot. And I wanted you to come on this program. And I wanted you to speak your mind in front of this audience. I think it was an important interview. And we're very happy you did it.
Thank you very much.
POWELL: Thank you, Bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Again, we would like to thank the General for appearing on THE FACTOR.
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