Colin Powell, buoyed by a new GOP poll in New Hampshire and flirtation with Ross Perot’s new Independence Party, brought his non-campaign for president to Washington state Thursday.
Although Powell said his decision on whether to run for the White House is still at least a month off, he offered an olive branch for the religious conservatives in the Republican Party.
Powell told reporters that some conservatives were stunned by some of his more moderate views, but that he shares many of their goals, sometimes differing only in methods.
“While I waited for the (political) death sentence to be read three or four days after I started saying those things, to the contrary, there appears to be support for moderation,” he said.
Powell, breaking his silence on political issues as he toys with a presidential bid, has said in recent interviews that he’s pro-choice on abortion, favors some attempts at affirmative action and backs some gun controls.
As rumblings of a conservative backlash grew Thursday, Powell said with a big grin, “If they feel that way, let them fire away. I mean, I am not trying to appeal to any constituency. I am just saying what I believe. When some of these views came out 10 days ago, in the Barbara Walters interview, people were shocked.
“Lo and behold, people discovered there was a broader spectrum in the Republican Party than just the views of the conservative Christian right.”
He said he and conservative critics are actually closer in basic views than might be apparent.
“I support what the Christian Coalition and the Christian right are trying to do with respect to family values and putting discipline and structure back into the lives of young people,” he said. “I just don’t go as far as they do in converting that into legislation agenda items, which puts more government into the lives of people.”
More than 2,000 fans lined up outside the smalltown Fred Meyer department store, some waiting in the steady rain for several hours, to plunk down $21 for the military hero’s memoirs and get a few seconds to exchange pleasantries with Powell as he autographed books.
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