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. Wally Lind

    Oh Hogwash, General. The economy was and IS the only determanitive issue in late 2008. You are right that republicans have to stop letting Rush have a say in the selection of our nominees for any office, mainly because even he says he is not a republican. Who stands for the party is none of his business. The bailout fever we are in makes Bush's "huge" budgets seempetty, Obama will double or triple the national debt.

    Every "conservative" issue, like immigration, except national security, went down the toilet with the 2008 elections. Those issues are now settled by election. Forget them!

    You should have run in 2000, you would have won, Al Gore is a whiny light weight. But ist's too late for you now. Too bad, I would have voted for you.

    Wally Lind
    Lakeville, Minnesota

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

    He is right in the true sense of the word.

    December 11, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  3. John Seater

    Has Powell ever even listened to Limbaugh? It doesn't sound like it.

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

    powell isn't a republican and never was. he's always been a house boy for whatever team was winning. now that he's finally aware of the minority becoming the majority, he's become a full blown ni**er.

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

    The Dems continue to set the bar of what we should expect over the next 4 years. We have a dem soon to be president elect that is a self confessed cocaine user with a stellar history of amazingly poor judgement of characters on those he once called friends (Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers and now Illi – Gov. "Blogo"). Forcing socialism on a country that was founded on capialism will not work. Nobody that understands the true issues at hands wants the feds owning majority shares in our private corporations....I think we've seen enough on their ability to manage investments on their end (soc sec??) This is the party we are to stand behind? These are our leaders of tomorrow? Give your head a shake folks. The republicans had been in for 2 terms it was of little suprise we lost this go around. Stop blaming Bush.....if he was so bad you would have voted him out 4 years ago. Trust me we'll be back in charge to fix all that will be made wrong over the next 4 years.

    December 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. Pa whitey

    Listen to the libs trash talkin now! When everything is screwed up in 4 years they will still be blaming Bush. The economy was pretty good until the dems got the majority in 2006.

    Who made banks give loans to homeowners who could not afford it?
    Who made the auto companies make cars nobody wanted?
    Who wants to put more regulations and taxes on manufacturing that will force them to go out of business or relocate?
    Who does not want us to drill for our own oil or use coal?
    Who is it that wants to take away our national traditions and institutions?
    Who is waging the war against Christmas?
    Who breaks everyone down by skin color or gender.
    The LIBS thats who!

    One Nation Under God. Sorry libs.

    December 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. dave smith

    to the comment made by stupid rich! learn how to spell before you make a retard comment. its obvious that you lack education.

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

    General Sir,
    Your transformation seems to be complete.
    Where did you loose your values.
    Mr. Limbaugh is the only clear voice in this jungle of corruption we are living in.

    RUSH IS ALL WE HAVE LEFT TO GUIDE US .

    THANK GOD YOU ARE NOT.

    GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    December 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. BUSHED

    WOW! This blog has been taken over by Foxnews quacks and their comments prove Colin Powell is right on the money. The republican party apparently doesn't have the ability to adjust from their narrowminded methology. LOL

    December 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. eaca

    Colin Powell said "lower instincts, and higher instincts"?

    Mr. Powell, animals act upon their instincts, human beings act upon their intellects, or they should anyway.

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

    Powell should just admit he is a limp-wristed Democrat.

    December 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. Gift of the Maji

    TO: Montogomery Gregory

    Wrong: Palin incites hate in YOU.

    She energized we conservatives... McCain was a turd and everyone knew it. Among the three others (senators all) in the race, she had the reality-based governing experience... and all the effite leftsts
    (and yes, some repubs) blew that off... believing somehow that getting along in a pond of 100 millionaires/billionaires (who had a 13% approval rating) somehow was better.

    Electing any sitting Senator is a joke– and so is your post.

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

    Is powell angry that obama didnt give him any secretary position in his cabinet? Poor general. I really pity you

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

    Hey Ted:Canada,
    Hows nationalization working out out for you in Canada? Oh, and how is that wonderful nationalized healthcare system taking care of it's people?
    By the way, how is same sex marriages working out?
    Mind your own canadian business. You have no idea what makes America work (at least in the past) Your liberal ideology has poisoned our borders along with our corrupt government!

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

    Colin Powell is a Republican?

    December 11, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. Robert New York City & Miami, Florida

    He (Powell) is as criminal as Bush is. He knew what he was doing when he lied to the world.

    December 11, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  17. deborah, WV

    Colin Powell makes a valid point. As of the 08 election I am no longer a registered Republican.
    I was a Republican because of my Christian values and my belief in right to life. But after the abuses of power by the Bush and Cheney regieme and the hate and mud slinging by the likes of Rush Limbaugh I am appalled that I ever in any way supported that corrupt machine called the Republican Party.
    I am thankful for people like Colin Powel that have the courage to stand up for what is right. Maybe there is some hope for the party, but as long as Limbaugh and the like is screaming, I'll stay away!!!

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

    CNN...when you present quality news rather than thinly disguised opinion, do the job you are expected to do, maybe your company will get back to a profitable status. Until then as your adherents say F off.

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

    "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 nfluence them by… the principles and dogma."
    -------------------------------

    So you are saying that we have to compromise our beliefs and pander to a segment of the population???

    NOW who's the racist?

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

    Ted in Canada: You are advising the Republicans to abandon their principles in favor of pragmatism.

    I suggest you put that education you speak of to work, and think about what you said. Then think back to other places where principles were abandoned.

    When you abandon your principles, you become unprincipled, like Colin Powell, or Neville Chamberlain, or any other bleeding hearts throughout history who thought you could reason with thugs and barbarians.

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

    Colin, please! Don't go blaming anybody but yourself for what is happening to you. You don't even know who YOU are. Get some therapy if you haven't started yet.

    December 11, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  22. Irene Hanson

    General Powell is a closet BIGOT. He never really liked the white world he chose to 'live" in.
    He is a taker-–a spoiled man – who was losing his political clout. His reasons for endorsing Obama were weak and foolish. I once thought so highly of him. I told children he was a true HERO. I was wrong.
    He is a yellow bellied vindictive turncoat. If Obama does not give him a plumb job in his admisistration, Powell, will turn on him like a "cornered snake".
    Sad to see a man sell himself to the highest bidder.
    As for the comments about Rush Limbaugh:
    General Powell has no right to tell people who to listen to on the radio or who to watch on TV any more than he has the right to tell us who the next BLOCK of voters will be and who to "kiss up" to.
    God forgive him . Pray for this man, for he is the Lowest of Mankind....
    He lies to himself. He does not like himself. He does not even KNOW himself.

    December 11, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  23. James

    General Powell is the only sane Republican out there. He did not, as some claim, jump party lines. He is still conservative. What happened is he supported the candidate who best represented his values. That just happened to be a Democrat. As soon as all of you Republicans realize your party has gone astray, you will start getting back some respect. I wait for that day to come so I can switch back to being a Republican. Until you start listening to true conservatives with brains, like Powell, you are just a bunch of ignorant hypocrites.

    December 11, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  24. Robert New York City & Miami, Florida

    And he looks like a "bean" in that picture!

    December 11, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  25. anthony

    I agree wholeheartedly with Secretary Powell. I am a life long Republican who broke ranks this election, and voted for Obama. You would not believe how many of my friends have stopped talking to me because of it. It doesn't matter to me though, I was getting pretty tired of hearing the daily tirades and accusations that Obama is muslim, Obama isn't American, Obama this, Obama that. Honestly, between bloggers, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and all the other screechers on radio and television, it's a wonder there wasn't violence in the streets on election day. These "pundits" have become a scourge on our society. Listeners, wake up! The only reason these guys are so afraid of Obama and Co. is that their viewpoints may get balanced with the other side, and you know what happens when a monopoly gets busted up? Less money for these guys. Hannity claims to represent the average American? Please. How much does he get for his radio show, like $25,000,000? And Rush? Hundreds of millions for a new contract. Think about that.

    December 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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