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. Dixie

    Why is it that so called diverse and all caring Democrats and Liberals are constantly calling those who don't agree with the such things as racist and religious idiots. They really sound like kids from grade school. I personally can't wait to see their comments six months from now. I wonder when America no longer resembles what it was who shall they blame? Will it still be the evil Bush, Rush, and their sheeple? Just remember when the economy turned sour the Congress who really weilds the power in Washington was under Democrat control.

    December 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. lwayne

    Powell is a racist, a closet liberal, and out for himself alone.

    December 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Ernie

    I remember when Rush "Poobah" said that people who are drug addicts should be locked up for life! Maybe it is time for him to stop his hypocrisy and turn himself in.

    December 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. ME

    Rush for president!

    December 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. JPZingher

    If we're not united by our conservative views, why be united at all?

    December 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. Carl Justus

    .It is about time that Powell spoke up about the dogma of the republican party. I still think he could have done more to stop the invasion of Iraq and the almost bankruptcy of this country.
    He may have had to go speak out publicly of the inter-workings of this failed administration and would have been accused of being a turncoat, but it is better in my mind to do the right thing than to be keep from criticism..

    December 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  7. Gosport474

    Who the heck is Colin Powell? Irrelevant.

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

    Conservatism is a set of ideals or beliefs. One does not change thei beliefs or compromise their principles to acheive political victory. The weakness in the Republican party is the inability to communicate conservative principles. The current leadership has failed because it tried to pander to some groups to the abandonment of some core beliefs. Before we can expand the tent, we need to get the tent to stand up on its own foundation.

    December 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. Doug

    Rush and Hannity have become the biggest dividers in this country. They have also proved to be the two biggest hypocrites on the air. Remember how they criticized Clinton when he went to war in Bosnia, but if anyone criticized Bush and his war in Iraq they would say those people were un-american and were not supporting the troops. Rush had no problem saying that people who did drugs should go to jail and that we should have laws against prostitution, except when it came to Rush who got rehab for his drug problem and a private plane to take him to a country where prostitutes were easy to get.

    December 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Chuck

    Well, it's nice to see the infuriated right-wing-nuts come out in force on this. Here's the reality: Obama and the Democratic Party won a landslide in 2008 partially due to fantastic candidates, and partially due to constant Republican incompetence/mismanagement of our entire government.

    If the Republican party would simply go back to the Goldwater days, even centrists could vote for them. But nooooo...we get more Duncan Hunter, his biggest fan Ann Coulter, and more of the same.

    The very same people who literally lied this nation into an
    unnecessary war were also responsible for the largest expansion of government in U.S. history.

    They have now become the party of "Big Government", and this is why everyone is calling for introspection.

    Thank God Barack Hussein Obama will take the oath of office on 1/20/09. May he lead us well.

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

    I don't get it...Why would democrats or Obama supporters like Powell want people to stop listening to Limbaugh?..I mean if Rush is what's hurting the GOP, then those two groups of people should want Limbaugh doing what he does 24/7,...right? If it is getting their choices of candidates elected, why would you want him silenced?? It makes no sense...Rush is doing just fine..God Bless Rush Limbaugh..Greatest man alive..

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

    I wonder if Powell has ever listened to Rush Limbaugh? If he had I think he would have a different opinion. Or, at least a more reasoned commentary about Limbbaugh. I know he is very good at listening to himself. Maybe that is his problem in his senior years. Where was he when he was in the Bush Administration? I don't buy this epiphany he has experienced. It's very fishy. He sounds more and more like Wes Clark.

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. Campbell please RESIGN

    Campbell is getting on my nerves with her constant critique of Obama. She needs to do some actual jouralism work and maybe be appaulled that Bilo hasn't meet with the press. Get an interview with him, comment on how is it that he can go to work everyday and not address the people of Illinois. Really, I think she has a thing for Obama and spends every moment thinking of him.

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  14. Bill

    ha ha ha pa whitey. you made my day. what a hilarious comment : the liberals are waging war against christmas. ha ha ha!

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. Theodore Roosevelt

    Exactly Mr. Powell!...because there are no liberal pundits who spend all their time "shouting at the world and the country" ::cough, cough:: Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Michael Moore ::cough cough::

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. Tom F.

    Powell is rather irrelevant now in conservative circles, especially after endorsing Obama. His tenure as Secretary of State was mediocre at best and he's in no position to tell us what to do and who to listen to.

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. whatarush

    POW , SCORCH...Rush calls the colin a bigot for claiming "Race has nothing to do with my vote for Obama"

    and the old bigot takes the hit none to kindly ...

    WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO

    Rush 2012 ...

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. Mark

    Dems, you better change your thinking. Your's is the attitude Republicans had after 1993. The Republican Party isn't dead and I don't believe we need worry that the majority in 2020 is the minority noiw. There are plent of conservative people in the ranks of the minorities today. Self reliance, personal responsibility and the belief that the capitalistic society which has created the most dynamic country in the world in 230 years should not be underestimated. Obama's administration may have set a record this week considering the goings on in the Illinois Governors office. Obama seems to roll with pigs yet never understands that he rolled with pigs. Just wait. The fun has just begun.

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. Katepatate

    The fact is, if you voted for Obama you are definitely not a conservative. Of course, voting for McCain was not a vote for conservatism either. Conservatives just did not have a candidate worth voting for this time around. If Sarah Palin gets a little more experience(about as much as Obama has now) and runs in four or maybe even in eight years she will be a true conservative contender. I believe the liberals are trying to get Caroline Kennedy in Hillary's senate seat so that in a few years they can try to get back their "Camelot" by getting another Kennedy in office. We conservatives need to be aware of what is happening. As for Colin Powell, he is an opportunist and a bigot. Of course he voted for Obama because he is black. He certainly did not vote for him because of his intellect or experience.

    December 11, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. LOSERS

    The loser drudgereport trolls have found their pissing spot. Brainwashed children.....

    Same fruits with the capilism flags are now waving the bailout flags....

    NO BAILOUTS NO TAXPAYER RIPOFFS

    December 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  21. Richard D

    Powell has no values but blows with the liberal wind. Next thing Powell will be saying is he doesn't believe Obama knew about the sale of his Senate seat. Right. I am just waiting to see what job Powell was promised for his switch to Obama. That will tell all.

    December 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. DE

    As soon as Powell can name just one instance or racist comment by McCain or Palin then he would have credibility. Obama's false racist Spanish ad about McCain does not seem to bother Powell. The fact that the Obama campaign continually tried to inject the race card, doesn't bother Powell. The fact that Obama sat in an American hating racist church, while also exposing and teaching his two small daughters this "religion", doesn't bother Powell. The fact that 94% of one race voted for the same candidate, is not racist according to Powell, unless that 94% is white. The fact that the left has spewed hatred and called for the death of our president and vice president for 8 years is not polarizing to Powell. But, point out the now UNDISPUTED FACT that Obama's political career started in American terrorist Bill Ayers home, and that is just over the line, the final straw, the republicans have lost their way, I cannot suppurt this ticket, according to Powell. Please Mr. Powell, stop the BS and just say you don't believe in conservative ideology, you were never a staunch republican, and you voted for Obama because he is half black.

    December 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. TXCon1

    There is a party already in place for the likes of Colon Powell and his ilk – the DNC. So, just stay right over there to the left, sir, and leave us conservatives to stick to our guns, religion and principles. I'll take Rush Limbaugh as an advisor any day over Colon and his gang of neocons (a.k.a. Libs).

    December 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Libertarian-Oriented_Republican

    The country doesn't need 2 liberal parties. They were presented w/2 liberal candidates for pres. & naturally picked the Democrat. I can't even recognize Powell as a conservative; what does Powell believe in besides an inexperienced liberal pres.-elect? What exactly is Powell loyal to?
    The message of personal responsibility and limited gov't is NOT anti-minority; it's pro-human. The posting calling the Republican Party radical right-wingers is laughable. That guy doesn't know us. Who moved the goalposts? The party is left of JFK these days.
    We can connect with anyone who works and would like to spend their own money, anyone who distrusts power. I disagree with Limbaugh at least once a week, but I'll take him over Powell every day.

    December 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. Paul

    Colin Powell is nothing buy an affirmative action General to begin with,
    It's sad he doesn't realize that and be grateful he glomed onto white western civilization, and isn't living with his brethren in Africa.

    He's advanced and acheived his rank due to white guilt, not talent or military genius. He has a mediocre mind at best. See William Lind for a modern military mind, who actually writes, and doesn;t fetch.

    If you think white supremacy is bad white people and you feel guilt for your success, wait til you see what white inferiority is like.

    Take a look at South Africa.

    December 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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