Former Secretary of State Colin Powell chided Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday night for focusing on his ethnicity when discussing his support of President Barack Obama.
At the beginning of a lengthy interview, O’Reilly questioned why Powell, a Republican, had supported Obama in 2008 and again in 2012.
Powell said he was troubled that the Republican Party had moved so far to the right and that Obama was the best choice. But O’Reilly questioned why Powell voted for Obama when the President’s policies didn’t seem to help African-Americans. O’Reilly rattled off a list of statistics to prove life for the average African-American had not improved under Obama.
“Why are you only seeing me as an African-American, Bill?” Powell responded. “That troubles me. I’m an American.”
O’Reilly defended his question, noting that Powell had condemned Republicans for looking down on minorities. Powell, apparently trying to change the subject, said the economy had improved but not enough.
“Not for African-Americans, not for minorities” O’Reilly interrupted.
Powell explained that the economic situation of minorities would improve once the economy recovered from the recession and financial crisis.
The two Republicans also clashed over voter ID laws. Powell alleged the laws were a cynical attempt to disenfranchise minority voters, a claim that O’Reilly dismissed.