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. betterred

    Rush Limbaugh is correct and Colin Powell needs shut up..
    actually he needs cross over and join the mentally challenged party where what he says makes sense...

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. voter

    Stop the "Christian" bigotry... it's not "Christian" and it's not pretty

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. wymck

    Many Republicans were ready to vote for Colin Powell in 1996; but providence, and a war hero named Bob Dole, saved us from this mistake.

    When the USA news media feels a lack of balance, they interrupt their Barack Obama lovefest to showcase a fake conservative. Until 2008, this was John McCain. Welcome, General Powell, you are the new (false) face of the Republican Party.

    It would be marvelous if Republicans would wake up and smell the ponyloaf rhetoric from both parties. Wake up before Obama seizes another industry and nationalizes it under the pretense of a bailout. Wake up before the United Nations gets veto authority. Wake up before Iran swallows the Middle East. Wake up before you have to call your Congressman before you can call your doctor. That would be great.

    Personally, I suspect that voters were angry because they've been lied to for years and President Bush wouldn't answer the Democrats' false charges. I also expect, one year from today, that the majority will dearly miss George W. Bush, and they will greet Republicans with open arms in 2010.

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. Stan Hunter

    Although I am not a Republican, I have always admired Colin Powell. First and foremost, he is honest. Which is much, much more than you can say about Rush Limbaugh.

    December 11, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  5. Bill

    There's a reason why Generals need to just "fade away".

    December 11, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Ari Gold

    Why should I listen to Colin Powell? This is the same guy that led us into the iraq war with faulty intelligence. He is just as guilty as George W. Bush and his hands have blood on them just like the rest of the GOP.

    December 11, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. james

    Let's give Obama a chance to govern. He has already moved signficantly to the center even before taking office. He will move further to the center as time goes on, to the greatest disappointment of the far left, the dogmatic, demogague democratst those who elected him on his "peace" promises. To blame Rush is such a crude and simplistic point, especially coming from a stateman like Powell.

    December 11, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Dennis

    It's as plain as the nose on your face that Powell backing BO was based on race. Powell is no longer relevant on the world stage and anything he says or does is of little consequence to anyone, unless you are a liberal/Democrat which means that you have an IQ lower than bean dip.

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Impeach Obama

    Why is CNN pushing this story when it is clear now that Obama lied about his involvement with Blagjovich ? Is CNN going to continue to ignore the story ? CNN is helping the Obamaists take us down a very dangerous road.

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. Tim

    I challange you liberal lefties. I will pay $1000.00 cash on the spot to anyone of you, who can quote one sentence of "hate" that Rush Limbaugh ever uttered in his lifetime. Just give the date and time that he uttered the words on his program, and prove it.

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. Texasgene

    Ted in Canada , No cares what a socialist Canadain has to say about anything

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  12. Texas Conservative

    I totally agree with California Steamin. The only reason we lost the election is that McCain wasn't a conservative. People like General Powell was of the same ilk or chose to vote based on race. I only wish we had been given the opportunity to vote for a truly conservative team. Sarah palin had it right (and still does)!

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. ttofast70@comcast.net

    Is saterist a new word for hate-spewing, ignorant, obese addict?

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. RDW

    Hey Ted in Canada, You just need to worry about you won socialism.

    December 11, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Laramie Hirsch

    This is hilarious.

    The world will not be satisfied until people of pious morality are wiped off the globe. People like Colin Powell want a world of morons.

    December 11, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. pat k

    Its John McCain, stupid.

    December 11, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. danny roturra

    no! we should listen to an affirmative action, mediore, racist clown that has demonstrated bad judgement, no judgement and no loyalty.

    December 11, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Texasgene

    Anonymous, I would hide with your beliefs also

    December 11, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Osamas Pajamas

    Hey. Powell's not even a Republican and doesn't support Republican victories, so his offer of advice is suspect, I would think. He's more worried about being called "the house slave" by Calypso Lousi Farrakhan and the Reverend Wright than he is in promoting an economic system that lifts all boats. Too bad -- I thought this man could transcend race - but evidently not.

    December 11, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  20. Drew

    Colin Powell is an opportunist. A competent opportunist, who has joined country club republicans (RINOs). He made it to the club when he became Secretary of State, thanks to that racist bigot GWB. Then he rewarded this recognition of his talents by playing a major role in the valerie plame case and the yellow cake issues. He and buddy Richard Armitage are now invited to all the elite cocktail parties. That is the turf he is defending. The country is over 60 percent conservative, both culturally and fiscally, and this includes the minorities (about which see Prop 8 in CA). Obama lied about "tax cuts" that will not be forthcoming, and bought votes from the bottom 30% of non-taxpayers by implying they would receive a greater earned income credit. Powell is also not a natural born citizen. Both his parents were of Jamaican descent, one white, one black. In that, his experiences may be similar to Obamas growing up. The cocktail circuit produces the consulting, the talk show money and the speaker circuit, which is how he makes is well paid living. Powell however is woefully uninformed about the populace of the US outside the Army model. The pendulum is going to swing, and Rush and others are not shouting- they are meticulously pointing out to all people of all backgrounds the fundamental truths of our Bill of Rights. Powell is unfortunately a has been hack.

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  21. Keith

    Why on earth should the GOP accept advice from someone who supported Obama? Why on earth would an Obama supporter want to "help" the GOP? Powell should enjoy his victory, and leave the future of the GOP to those who care about the future of the GOP.

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. bwoody

    Wow! and i thought Powell was an intelligent man. How dare he try and tell us what is right or wrong to listen to.

    What exactly did the conservatives do in "appealing to lesser instincts"? what the hell does that mean?

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Desmond

    Colin Powell has crossed the Rubicon. He no longer has a set of principled beliefs. His support of Obama contradicted all his previously held ideological views and his silence when Richard Armitage let Patrick Fitzgerald convict Scooter Libby of a 'process crime' was an act of cowardice.

    Powell's problems with Rush result from Rush's well articulated views of Powell's inconsistencies. Such thin skin of the former general !!!

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  24. pirmin

    Why stop now? I would love it if the republikkkan party was even more conservative. Sara Palin 2012? Go for it. I could use another laugh or two.

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Coach G

    It's a sad day in America When We hear that so many people believe in the voice of Rush. If he has so many good ideas, why didn't he give them to Pres. Bush. Rush and his supporters are what divides America. Keep listening to Rush and keep Rushing to defeat

    December 11, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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