And he's putting the blame on bigots like Rush Limbaugh, who fanned the flames all during the campaign.
Powell: the GOP still has a race problem
KING: You wrote in your book some time ago about this issue, about serving in administrations. You wrote: "Never in the two years I worked with Ronald Reagan and George Bush did I detect the slightest trace of racial prejudice in their behavior. They led a party, however, whose principal message to black Americans seemed to be, lift yourself up by your bootstraps. Some did not have boots. I wish that Reagan and Bush had shown more sensitivity on this point."
Let's fast forward to where we are today. Does the Republican Party have that sensitivity now? You just mentioned the divergence of opinion when this nomination first came up. Are you confident those in, let's say, elected leadership positions have that sensitivity now?
POWELL: Well, if you look at the results of the election last fall and make a judgment on the basis of how the party did with respect to the Hispanic vote and the African-American vote, realizing that President Obama -- candidate Obama had a significant advantage with those constituencies, we haven't done well enough.
And when you have non-elected officials such as we have in our party who immediately shout racism or somebody who is quite prominent in the media says that the only basis upon which I could possibly have supported Obama was because he was black and I was black, even though I laid out my judgment on the candidates, then we still have a problem.
Here's a bonus clip of Rush on the hate crimes bill: Everybody but "blacks and homosexuals" "can get to the back of the bus":