Colin Powell's former chief of staff has blasted the Republican Party for being “full of racists.”
The biting assessment from retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson came in response to controversy over a comment made by Mitt Romney campaign co-chair John Sununu, who suggested Powell endorsed President Obama because both men are African-American.
Wilkerson called Sununu’s comments “an unfortunate slip of words,” but said he believes a larger issue besets the GOP.
“My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people — not all of them, but most of them — who are still basing their positions on race,” Wilkerson told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on Friday.
“Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists,” he said.
Wilkerson also indicated that he believes race is one of the biggest obstacles President Obama faces in the White House.
“The real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin,” he said.
“That's despicable,” he added.
Wilkerson’s remarks came in response to controversy over a comment made by John Sununu, who suggested Powell endorsed President Obama because both men are African-American.
Wilkerson said he respected Sununu“as a Republican, as a member of my party,” but said he did not “have any respect for the integrity of the position.”
Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, has backtracked from his suggestion that former Secretary of State Powell’s endorsement of the president was based on skin color.
“I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the president's policies," Sununu said in a statement Thursday.
This wasn’t the first time that Wilkerson has taken aim at Romney’s campaign team, including foreign policy advisers with whom he worked during the George W. Bush administration.
“These people make me sick,” Wilkerson told MSNBC earlier this month. Specifically, he lambasted John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations under the second President Bush. Bolton is now an adviser to Romney.
“The man scares me to death,” Wilkerson said.