December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Powell: GOP 'polarization' backfired in election

Powell says the GOP tried to use 'polarization for political advantage.'
Powell says the GOP tried to use 'polarization for political advantage.'

(CNN) - The Republican party must stop "shouting at the world" and start listening to minority groups if it is to win elections in the 21st century, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria for Sunday's "GPS" program, President Bush's former secretary of state said his party's attempt "to use polarization for political advantage" backfired last month.

"I think the party has to take a hard look at itself," Powell said in the interview, which was taped Wednesday. "There is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is nothing wrong with having socially conservative views - I don't object to that. But if the party wants to have a future in this country, it has to face some realities. In another 20 years, the majority in this country will be the minority."

Powell, who crossed party lines and endorsed President-elect Barack Obama just weeks before the election, said the GOP must see what is in the "hearts and minds" of African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters "and not just try to influence them by... the principles and dogma."

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said. "I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"

Zakaria's full interview with Powell will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CNN.


Filed under: Colin Powell
soundoff (1,390 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Rush Limbaugh's routine has become tired and silly. Same for Hannity, mostly Glenn Beck and the entire talk radio genre. The nation is finally growing up enough to realize how ridiculously influential talk radio has become... and it's about to lose that influence. I bought into Rush, Hannity and Beck for years. And then I saw how misguided their "principles" are. I tried Air America and found the same silly black and white nonsense.

    I grew up.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Crying in the desert

    Wow,
    It's always refreshing to listen to Powell whom I admire greatly. I don't affiliate with any Party, I only want what's best for my country, my family and my community. Powell is on point here; but I feel he's the voice crying in the desert. I share many "republican values" as well values that are not particularly republican. However, I have been frustrated listening to the leaders and conservative radio shows. There is what I call "The Dumbing Down Process" within the conservative movement. They define themselves by what they are not as oppose to what they stand for. The tell how the other guy is going to hurt you not by they how they help you. They are void of sound aguments and cuss out callers who disagree with them.
    They out of touch with the people. The Republican party's main problem is their unwillingness to reflect the electorate; they are rigid and dogmatic. I don't like to be talked at. I want to be heard.
    The Party won't listen to Powell because he's a minority, a moderate, is telling them what they don't want hear.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Rush Lameduck

    Lets all go after Limbaugh.

    December 11, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. Larry

    It's totally amazing how there are so many different "reads" on what General Powell had to say about the Republican Party-He said he IS a Republican--Right off the bat you KNOW he is a good person and vary smart-–That's all you need to know , the rest of it is just his opinion he has at this moment.

    December 11, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. Mort

    Boycotting Rush? As Bugs Bunny said, "What a maroon!". You want to see effective boycotting? Look at all of the liberal papers that are going bankrupt. Consrvatives got tired of that crap years ago and now the papers are reaping the result. When the NYT goes out of print, I think I'll throw a party.

    December 11, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Call me crazy

    I am sick of you liberal nut jobs telling everyone to listen to their views. While at the same time telling us we can’t share ours. You keep distancing our country from the principles it was founded on, and you will see the destruction of America. Hope you like it when freedom is gone!!

    December 11, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Shannon

    For all the people here praising Mr Powell, he lied before the UN and we went to war in Iraq. He sold this country out, for the Bush Cheney Regime.

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  8. Beth

    "The Democrats are the party of the wimps and weenies. They need to be crushed like bugs."

    With so many problems besetting our country and the world this is such a sad indication of the state of mind of some people. How can anyone make comments like these against their fellow Americans? I'm not sure what to call it, it isn't racism exactly – although similar to the mindset of Nazis versus Jews and White Supremacists versus just about any non Aryan. It isn't ignorance exactly – if one truly believes they are right in saying this sort of thing they may be called rigid thinkers but not exactly ignorant.

    Whatever it might be called it is very disturbing. Just because I don't share someone else's viewpoint I should be squashed like a bug? Perhaps we need to bring our troops home from Iraq so they can fight for democracy here in the States.

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Mireya Ayala

    It seems as if the Left will sit down and talk/reason with leaders from any terrorist state...but will not extend the same kindness to people in this country who do not agree with their social liberal views.

    How sadly hypocritical!

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Jimmy D.

    If the Republican Party were still the party of Lincoln, Goldwater, and Reagan, I'd have voted Republican. McCain *could* have been such a candidate, and I had hoped that he would be; he chose, instead, to cater to the other side of the GOP, the party of McCarthy, Nixon, W and Palin.

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. Call me crazy

    I am sick of you liberal nut jobs telling everyone to listen to their views. While at the same time telling us we can’t share ours. You keep distancing our country from the principles it was founded on, and you will see the destruction of America. Hope you like it when freedom is gone!! I know this will not be posted

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. Brett Pedersen

    I am not a Repub., however, I generally like the GOP candidates better than the Dems. I feel that sometimes the Repub.s are too strident and a little mean. You do not need to be mean to be a conservative. Pol.s like Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin seem like decent, normal people who are quite conservative. Bush Jr. seems like a decent guy, however, he unfortunately turned out to not be a conservative....

    December 11, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. Howard R.

    Powell is as conservative as I am black. I wasa big fan until I read his book. I never understood why he was a Rep. besides being a more expedient way of moving up the ladder.

    Great American, but Powell giving political advice to conservatives is like me giving military advice Petraeus.

    This is one Powell doctrine that I'm not going to follow.

    Do you know, at Pottery Barn, if you break it, you don't have to buy it. I asked.

    December 11, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. mallers

    ditto california streamin

    December 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. Luther

    Wait a minute, isn't this the same guy who pitched the UN about WMDs in Iraq? I think there might be a credibility issue here.

    December 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. William Staneski

    Where do people like Colin Powell get their chutzpah?!? He has some nerve using the word "we" in telling the Republican party that WE need to start acting like Democrats. He endorsed Obama, the most leftist president we will have ever had. So, I suggest that he keep his leftist butt over there with his anti-meritocratic, group identity, leftist buddies and stop telling real Americans and Republicans what WE need to do.

    I would rather go down fighting than to give in to people like Powell and give up the country outright. I hope that enough 'minorities' start to catch on to the fact that if they don't start acting correctly very soon they will suceed in turning America into a third world society. Rush Limbaugh has more understanding of these things than yes-man Powell even knows exists.

    Indeed!!

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. NY Conservative

    The majority of the commenters here are getting confused between Republican and Conservative. The current Republican party is just a re-branded version of the Democrat party. True Conservatives stick to their beliefs – less government, personal accountability, and free markets. The present day Republicans change with the wind. Colin Powell is not a Conservative, never has been.

    Sean Hannity is a Conservative. Rush Limbaugh is a Conservative. I am a Conservative. What I believe in today, is what I have believed in yesterday, and what I will believe in tomorrow. We are not a nation of nations, we are the United States of America. We are the most prosperous, most successful, and most powerful nation in the world. We need to stay that way.

    Now that we have Socialists running our country (and yes, many who claim to be Rebublicans are in fact Socialists) the Conservatives need to fight even harder to show that are core beliefs will contune to keep us prosperous, successful, and powerful.

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. Johnny Reb

    Powell and RINOs like him are the very reason the GOP is doomed. Out of fear of an Obama POTUS coupled with a DNC controlled Congress, I held my nose and voted for the GOP establishment candidate in November. I was stupid emough to believe that a vote for a third party candidate would be a "wasted vote." As it turns out, a vote for McCain and the Blue Blood GOP establishment was truly a wasted vote. Never again will I make that mistake. Good riddance GOP and RINOs, I'll be supporting the Constitution Party henceforth!

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. Stuart Smalley

    Powell is yesterday's news, and is simpy trying to curry favor by bashing Consrvatives. Hey, Colin, your moderate buddies LOST! Bush (another moderate) is also a loser! You should go sit in your rocker on the porch with that other washed up whiner, Jimmah Cahtah.

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. Heinreich Schnockenberger

    The trouble with Powell is that he is not conservative. If conservatives want a Liberal elected, why would we even need a Republican Party?

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. Mike

    Aw...and the brainwashing begins...conservatism is bad, ideals are bad, principles are bad..and since minorities don't want to work for anything, we should all be democrats so everything is free...funny advise coming from a has been and a not would have been, if it weren't for affirmative action...and I'm sure this one won't be posted since it's not PC.

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. steve spelling

    God bless Rush Limbaugh! He was the first major conservative voice in the media. Before him there was nothing but left wing Main Stream Media drivel. Rush played a major role in reviving conservatism even if he is a bit of a wing nut on some issues. We love Rush.

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Mike M

    I could care less what Colin Powell has to say. Opnions are like, well you know! It's obvious that people like Stu-Florida hate Palin for no other reason than she is honest and smart. Too bad you elected a President that likes to hang out with Terrorist. Oh well, I'm sure Nobabma will screw us up even more, especially with the likes of Hillary as secretary of state, what a joke......

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  24. Rob

    Idiots...from Colin Powell to each and every Dumbocrat in here. You seriously are insane. INSANE. You completely fool only yourselves and do such a great job of it.

    You fools all need to check in to a sanitarium. Drug yourselves up...more so than you already do.

    THIS COUNTRY HAS BEEN RUINED BY DEMOCRATS

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. independent

    I hope General Powell stay in the republican party as a powerful voice that alerts the GOP followers. don't want to see a one-party country for the next 20 years. but what I fear is that republican base has turned into extreme-right that any "voice of reasoning" can not be heard. Maybe the moderate republicans like Powell, Mccain (who I admired before this election) could form a third party, that consists of real fiscial conservatives.

    December 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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