NBC's Gregory Invites Panel to Pile On After Powell Slams GOP for 'Intolerance'

Shortly after former Secretary of State Colin Powell attacked the Republican Party for having a supposed "dark vein of intolerance," on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory seized on the smear as he encouraged the show's panel to comment. The discussion that followed was devoid of any criticism of Powell's remarks. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Gregory began by grilling former Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: "I thought that was striking, some of General Powell's comments, particularly about the Republican Party....He talks about a deep vein of intolerance within the Party. How did that sit with you?" Barbour called Powell a "friend" but added that "we don't see everything the same way." He then noted the demographic disadvantage for the GOP in the 2012 election.

Gregory followed up: "But you once said that Colin Powell was in the mainstream of the Republican Party. Do you believe that today?" Barbour replied: "Yeah, I believe he is on the vast majority of issues. I think on that he sees it through his own prism."

Turning to Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Gregory urged more criticism of Republicans: "What do you think of his [Powell's] comments, particularly about intolerance directed toward this president?" Booker happily obliged:

Well, first of all, I think he's spot on and I see the Republican Party moving away from the Olympia Snowe's, the Lugar's, and a lot of the people, Jack Kemp's even, that had a lot of great ideas and were putting a lot into the conversation. And the rhetoric in this last campaign, I saw it in my community, really turned off a lot of people, black, Latino, women and gay, and it was unnecessary.

Wrapping up the topic, Gregory went to Republican strategist Mike Murphy: "You've had a lot of these similar critiques, but your thoughts about Colin Powell this morning?" Murphy responded: "I agree with him on the way we've ignored demographics, but I was also happy to hear he's still a Republican....And I'd invite him to come back home and help us modernize and strengthen the Party. We could use him."

During the interview with Powell, Gregory teed up the two-time Obama supporter's anti-Republican rant: "...as I go through your record on some social issues and even foreign policy issues, I challenge you a little bit to say on what basis are you still a Republican? Do you feel like this Republican Party has left you or have you left it?"

On Monday's NBC Today, fill-in news reader Willie Geist touted Powell's Republican ID: "On Meet the Press Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said the Republican Party is having an identity crisis. General Powell, a Republican himself, also slammed his party for having a, quote, 'dark vein of intolerance.'"


Here is a transcript of the January 13 panel discussion:

11:03AM ET

(...)

DAVID GREGORY: Well, Governor Barbour, I want to start with you because I thought that was – that was striking some of General Powell's comments particularly about the – the Republican Party. He's now twice-supported President Obama. He talks about a deep vein of intolerance within the Party. How did that sit with you?

HALEY BARBOUR: Well look, General Powell and I have been friends since he quit being a general and could be involved in politics. We don't see everything the same way, but one thing very plain, Republicans in this election did more poorly among Hispanics, much more poorly among Asian Americans and – and typically poorly among African-Americans. We have to improve our stand among all those. The good thing is, with the right kind of policies and the right kind of effort, we'll do that. Remember George Bush, the last Republican president, got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. This is not like there's some thousand-year history here.

GREGORY: But you once said that Colin Powell was in the mainstream of the Republican Party. Do you believe that today?

BARBOUR: Yeah, I believe he is on the vast majority of issues. I think on that he sees it through his own prism.

GREGORY: Cory Booker, Mayor, what do you think of his – his comments, particularly about intolerance directed toward this president?

CORY BOOKER [D-NEWARK, NJ]: Well, first of all, I think he's spot on and I see the Republican Party moving away from the Olympia Snowe's, the Lugar's, and a lot of the people, Jack Kemp's even, that had a lot of great ideas and were putting a lot into the conversation. And the rhetoric in this last campaign, I saw it in my community, really turned off a lot of people, black, Latino, women and gay, and it was unnecessary. When I switch – turned on the TV the other night, I sat up in my bed when I saw Newt Gingrich talking about marriage equality and how the Republican Party was going to have to start embracing some of these realities of where the country is going or be left behind. And I think that's very, very true. And what I really would love to see, though, from both parties is stop speaking about how we can win elections and more importantly how we can address the issues of America. Because the reality is if we focus on solving problems, that is good politics, good policy, good problem solving, pragmatism, always in my opinion, makes for good politics.

GREGORY: Mike Murphy, you've had a lot of these similar critiques, but…

MIKE MURPHY [REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST]: Mm-Hm.

GREGORY: …your thoughts about Colin Powell this morning?

MURPHY: Well, look I – I agree with him on the way we've ignored demographics, but I was also happy to hear he's still a Republican. He's kind of been off on a little bit of Democratic bender for a few years, so that was good news to me. And I'd invite him to come back home and help us modernize and strengthen the Party. We could use him.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC