July 28, 2009

Powell calls Palin a 'fascinating figure'

Posted: 03:05 PM ET
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke Tuesday with Larry King.


WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that he has been the victim of racial profiling, but still believes Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates could have been more patient with the police officer who arrested him.

"I think Skip, perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer and that might have been the end of it," Powell said in an interview with CNN's Larry King. "I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal."

Powell said that under the circumstances, Gates may not been in the appropriate frame of mind to best handle the situation. "He was just home from China, just home from New York. All he wanted to do was get to bed. His door was jammed and so he was in a mood where he said something," Powell said. He recalled a lesson he was taught as a child: "When you're faced with an officer who is trying to do his job and get to the bottom of something this is not the time to get in an argument with him."

The former secretary of state said he was racially profiled "many times," including an incident that took place while he was the national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan.

"Nobody thought I could possibly be the national security advisor to the president, I was just a black guy at Reagan National Airport," Powell said. "And it was only when I went to the counter and said is my guest here waiting for me, that someone said, 'Oh, you're General Powell.' It was inconceivable to him that a black guy could be the national security advisor."

Powell called former Alaska governor Sarah Palin a "fascinating figure… you have got to hand it to her."

He repeated his assessment that the former Republican vice presidential candidate had not been ready for the Oval Office last fall, but said she was worth watching.

"Apparently, she is going to re-enter public life…. We will have to see what her plans are," he said Tuesday. "I do not know if she is doing all of this for political purposes or just to start a new life in the wonderful world of speaking. And we will all be watching with great interest."

Powell, who has previously been critical of Rush Limbaugh, reiterated his opinion that members of his party ought to do the same. "The problem I'm having with the [Republican] party right now is that when he says something that I consider to be completely outrageous and I respond to it, I would like to see other members of the party do likewise, but the don't," he said.

When asked if he thinks Republicans are afraid to take on Limbaugh, Powell pointed out that several prominent Republicans have criticized Limbaugh but that "within 24 hours they were backing away because there is a strong base of support for Mr. Limbaugh."

The full interview will air Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EDT on Larry King Live.


Filed under: Larry King Live • Politics

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Andre Wilkes   July 28th, 2009 5:42 pm ET

Concerning Profeesor Gates and the Cambridge police department stances on the incident I can only say as the President of the United States President Obama being an bi-racial human being had every right to voice his opinion when questioned by the media about the incident; Yes this is a teachable subject that should be embraced by this country and the subject should not be pushed in the background. White people around the world ignore white privelage as Tim Wise said on CNN the other day. Then maybe they could understand the bias they have when race is brought up. PS. just listen to the 911 recording where Professor Gates was identified yet Officers Crowley’s said because he was irrate keep the cars coming!

Michael C. McHugh   July 28th, 2009 5:59 pm ET

One huge problem for the Republicans is that Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, the C Street Boys and the rest have huge appeal to their Confederate-Evangelical Base in the South, and almost zero appeal elsewhere. They can't win any national election with these people, and in 2008 McCain was the only candidate they had who even had a shot at beating someone like Obama–or perhaps Romney. The best candidate they could run would be Powell himself, but he upset them beyond measure by voting for Obama.

Cosme Falcon   July 28th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

For the moment the republican party is in disarray, they have some good people but hard to lead in so much mess. Palin is attracting the attention of some people but no enough to lead the party. Mistakes, infidelity, lack of communication, lack of young people to be in the center of what is going on, many negative issues are in the republican party, we wish that Mr. Powell as the next candidate but he likes Obama, will be hard to compete. We hope he can get more involve in the core of the Republicans.

John H   July 28th, 2009 9:03 pm ET

I would enthusiasticly support Colin Powell for President of the United States, not in 2012 but in 2016. He has the respect of large numbers of independents without which neither party can win. I'm just afraid that he is much too intelligent to aspire to such an office.

Chitra   July 28th, 2009 9:18 pm ET

I think Colin Powell is right in his thoughts on the Prof. Gates case. By nature of the job, those who have a bit of power trip are more likely to join the police force. I see that every time I get pulled over. Just not greeting the police with "Hello Officer" will get you off to the wrong start. But, I recently had a very positive experience out near Seattle – where even the police are super polite – i wonder if they get special training and the rest of the country should follow. He gave me the ticket with ultra-politeness!!!

Tyron Picard   July 28th, 2009 9:20 pm ET

Kudo's to General Powell for " speaking truth to power" and denouncing the type of extremism ( in both political parties) which gridlocks government and inhibits the greatest
civilization in history from solving so many problems which confronts it ( education, healthcare, taxation)
He has again shown that he is a man of honor and not a party lackey!
Larry should tap him as a stand in!! I will bet David Theall can make it happen!

Joe G. (Illinois)   July 28th, 2009 10:02 pm ET

The man “supposedly a republican” works for a Republican President, votes for Obama “a democrat” and then makes comment on the news about racial profiling.. Like Obama says “The world is watching!!”

Judith   July 28th, 2009 10:39 pm ET

Sarah Palin had stated during the campaign Hillary Clinton shouldn't whine about the media and here Sarah whines more than anyone.
If Sarah doesn't see her name either on the internet or the news something she will make up just so she will be talk about.

Sandra   July 29th, 2009 1:18 am ET

In reference to the Gates, I don’t see how Colin Powell as well as many people have missed the elephant in the room. It has long be held as a role of law that anyone that claims to be a professional in any field, is held to a higher degree of accountability in that field. In this case the Policeman is held to a higher degree of accountability because of his job. It really doesn’t matter that Gates was Black, purple, or green. The PROFESSIONAL officer was duty bond to step back and try to defuse the situation, rather than exacerbate it, regardless of what Gates might have said to him. I don’t know what was said, but I do know that Crowley said “There are not many things that are certain, but you can be certain that there will not be an apology”, immediately after this incident. That was totally unprofessional and stupid. I define stupidity as when you know better and chose not to do better. Crowley’s comment spoke to his officiousness and an inability to control his ego. I don’t care how many courses he has taught, or how many Black officers support him, he did not perform his job well here, and I thank God that this did not happen on a darken street corner to someone who does not have the notoriety of Gates. The bottom like is NO ONE likes to be pulled over or approached by a policeman and policemen should be well aware of this. What happen to all of the Officer’s domestic training. The Officer is the one with the gun and power, therefore he is held to more accountability— HELLO!

Thinker   July 29th, 2009 1:30 am ET

If Palin run in 2012, she will definitely win.

Lena, Kiev, Ukraine   July 29th, 2009 2:29 am ET

I live in Kiev, Ukraine, and of course we have only a vague idea and interest of what's going on overseas 🙂

and especially an extremely vague idea of Ms Palin – is she as serious as Bree Van der whatever in Desperate Housewives? I mean some ppl over here really think the two fd them are so very similar, incl. the consequences, and do have some pics to prove their stand! 🙂

Lena, Kiev, Ukraine   July 29th, 2009 2:31 am ET


I do believe you!
Female power, yeah....
And what do you care about a war or two.....

george   July 29th, 2009 5:09 am ET

Gates stepped way out of line & the officer was doing his job. the Prof. probably would have acted differently now that this is blown out of porportion, we all make mistakes...

Arunav S Banerjee   July 29th, 2009 5:14 am ET

I am surely voting for Sarah Palin in the 2012 presidential elections....and for Colin Powell in 2016/07...

Belgium   July 29th, 2009 12:04 pm ET

Sarah Palin is very facinating, all the way to Russia.

Annette Dlugosz   July 29th, 2009 2:46 pm ET

I'm glad to see that Colin Powell is now beginning to take an objective view of the whole situation. Actually, he can do much good. I was surprised to see that he leaned towards the left to socilism, but maybe he had a good reason for it.

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