Former Vice President Dick Cheney has shown little affection recently for his old Bush Administration colleague Colin Powell. Asked to choose between the one-time Secretary of State and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, Cheney said he'd side with Rush.
"If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh," Cheney said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."
But now, the acerbic ex-official is softening his stance. In an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Cheney said Powell is welcome back into the party and that Republicans would be "happy to have him."
KUDLOW: ... You kind of took a shot at General Colin Powell the other day, said you didn't know he was still a member of the Republican Party. He responded to you by saying that you were mistaken. He is a member of the Republican Party, and he regards himself a, quote, "Jack Kemp Republican," end quote. Could you react to what Mr. Powell is saying?
Mr. CHENEY: Well, we're happy to have General Powell in the Republican Party. I was asked a question about a dispute he was having, I think, with Rush Limbaugh, and I expressed the consent, the notion I had that he had already left since he endorsed Barack Obama for president. But I meant no offense to my former colleague. I wasn't seeking to rearrange his political identity.
KUDLOW: So you welcome him back into the party.
Mr. CHENEY: We're in the mode where we welcome everybody to the party. What I don't want to do, in the course of trying to expand the overall size of the Republican Party and expand our base, is to take away from basic fundamental principles. I think it's very important that we remind people out around the country what it is that we stand for, that we do believe in a strong national defense, in low taxes and limited government; and giving up on those principles, in order to try to appeal to people who are otherwise going to vote Democratic, seems to me is a--would be a fundamental defeat for those of us who are essentially conservative, who've been long-time supporters of the Republican Party.
On the subject of party identification, Cheney was also asked if he thought President Obama was "a socialist or a socialist-light." He responded, "Well, I agree with the criticism without using the labels. I don't want to get into trying to label President Obama. He's our president. At this point, he's the only one we've got. He won the election, and he obviously is entitled to pursue those policies that he wants to pursue."
Watch a preview of the interview, which airs at 7 P.M. Eastern Time on CNBC: