WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says his own Republican Party is having "an identity problem."
The former Joints Chief of Staff chairman who twice endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that in recent years there's been "a significant shift to the right," and that's produced two losing presidential campaigns.
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He says the GOP needs to "take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed" demographically, and that if the party doesn't change, "they're going to be in trouble." He also bemoans what he calls "a dark vein of intolerance" in some elements of the party.
He describes himself as a moderate but still a Republican.
Powell also responded to questions about former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam War veteran, who he said is "superbly qualified" to run the Pentagon.
Powell rejected criticism from other Republicans over a comment the former Nebraska lawmaker made about the "Jewish lobby" and a 2007 vote opposing designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist group.
"He is a very strong supporter of the state of Israel," Powell said. "It doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position the Israeli government takes."
Hagel, 66, has come under attack from Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas, members of Senate Armed Services Committee that will handle the nomination. Cornyn has said he opposes the nomination.
While Powell was leading the State Department under Republican President George W. Bush, Hagel criticized the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that the retired general supported. On Sunday, Powell said Hagel "is a solid guy who speaks his mind."