Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney Says He Favors Limbaugh Over Powell as Model Republican

Elliot Blair Smith


May 10

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Republicans are better served by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh than by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“My take on it was Colin had already left the party,” Cheney said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” noting that Republican Powell endorsed President Barack Obama, a Democrat, during the 2008 presidential campaign. “I assumed that that is some indication of his loyalty.”

Cheney, 68, clashed with Powell, 72, a retired four-star general, over tactics in the war on terrorism during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

Asked if he would “take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell,” Cheney said, “I would.”

Limbaugh, whose radio talk show is heard on more than 600 radio stations, has been targeting Republicans in addition to his traditional Democratic opponents since conservatives suffered reverses national polls last November.

Limbaugh suggested in March that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele commit suicide for presiding over Republican losses. He also criticized Powell’s endorsement of Obama, suggesting during his May 6 program that considerations of race had trumped politics. Obama and Powell are black.

“What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat, instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican Party. He’s not. He’s a full-fledged Democrat,” Limbaugh said, according to a partial transcript of the program on Limbaugh’s official Web site.

“The only reason to endorse Obama is race,” he said.

Sometimes Backfire

Limbaugh’s criticisms occasionally backfire. In 2006, he accused actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, of “exaggerating the effects” of the illness.

Limbaugh, 58, resigned from ESPN TV’s Sunday NFL Countdown pre-game show in 2003 after suggesting that Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb, named to five Pro Bowl teams, “got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve,” at least in part because “the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

During the “Face the Nation” interview, Cheney renewed his attack on the Obama administration’s terrorism policies, including its decision to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center and to release Bush-era Central Intelligence Agency memos on interrogations.

“I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of lives,” Cheney said. “I think if you look at this intelligence program, that when things are quieter, 20 or 30 years from now, you’ll be able to look back on this and say this is one of the great success stories of American intelligence.”

Terrorist Mission

While saying he had petitioned the CIA to declassify two intelligence memos supporting his argument, Cheney declined to specify any terrorist mission that had been thwarted. He also declined to commit to testifying under oath about it.

“I’d have to see what the circumstances are and what kind of precedent we were setting,” Cheney said about providing sworn testimony. “But certainly I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t feel comfortable talking about what we’re doing publicly.”

“I think it’s very, very important that we have a clear understanding that what happened here was an honorable approach to defending the nation, that there was nothing devious or deceitful or dishonest or illegal about what was done,” he said.

Cheney added that “there is room for moderates in the Republican party,” citing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor.

“But the suggestion our Democratic friends always make is somehow, you know, if you Republicans were just more like Democrats, you’d win elections. Well, I don’t buy that,” he said. “I think we win elections when we have good solid conservative principles to run upon and base our policies on those principles.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Elliot Blair Smith in Washington, D.C., at

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