Colin Powell: 'Birther Nonsense' Is 'Killing The Base' Of The GOP

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Former United States Secretary Of State, Colin Powell walks the red carpet for the International
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Former United States Secretary Of State, Colin Powell walks the red carpet for the International Rescue Committee's Annual Freedom Award benefit at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for IRC)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell continued to offer harsh but constructive criticism to his own party on Monday, advising Republicans to loudly reject "birther nonsense" and develop new policies to improve their outreach to the nation's shifting demographics.

“Republicans have to stop buying into things that demonize the president," Powell said during an appearance on ABC News. "I mean, why aren’t Republican leaders shouting out about all this birther nonsense and all these other things? They should speak out. This is the kind of intolerance that I’ve been talking about where these idiot presentations continue to be made and you don’t see the senior leadership of the party say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’ In fact, sometimes by not speaking out, they’re encouraging it. And the base keeps buying the stuff."

Powell, who endorsed Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, said that the GOP's relative silence on such fringe issues came at a detriment to its popularity.

“And it’s killing the base of the party," he said. "I mean, 26 percent favorability rating for the party right now. It ought to be telling them something. So, instead of attacking me or whoever speaks like I do, look in the mirror and realize, ‘How are we going to win the next election?'"

Powell then urged Republicans to reflect on their platform and identify some authentic ways to craft policies that would increase their appeal with minority voters.

“It’s a party that has to stop saying, ‘We are going to appeal to you with new messages.’ You need policies -- the country is becoming more minority,” Powell said.

Republicans drew some criticism last week from those who saw a panel at their annual retreat regarding "Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women" as a superficial effort to temper their tone -- but not actual party positions -- in order to improve outreach.

Powell has been aggressive in his counsel for his party over the past week. Speaking on Monday, he jabbed the GOP for what he perceived as a concerted effort to restrict voting in some areas.

"Should we really have gone after reducing the turnout of voters in those places where we thought it would make a difference?" he asked on MSNBC. "The Republican Party should be a party that says, ‘We want everybody to vote,’ and make it easier for people to vote and give them a reason to vote for the party, and not to find ways to keep them from voting at all."

And last week, Powell charged that there is "a dark vein of intolerance in some parts" of the Republican structure.

Powell quickly drew pushback from Republicans, who rejected his contention.

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