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. Ann, California

    Amen and Amen! Not too much more to say.

    December 11, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  2. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    Powell is right. Hopefully the rushpublican party will ignore him and stay a permanent minority.

    Palin/Joe the Whatever 2012

    December 11, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. jarrudy

    i love him

    December 11, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Chris

    The GOP has been on track to alienating our children from the cultures of the world and building enemies in the process – very unChristian like if you ask me. (also, religious affiliation, "family values" and "patriotic" should NOT be a brand owned by ANY party in a democracy united by different types of people trying to be an example to the world)

    This is the primary reason they lost my vote.

    December 11, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. aware

    Its over! But Powell has lost his credibility long ago.

    Time to focus on PEBO!

    This guy is not believable!

    His campaign people acted like Chicago thugs during the caucases in the primaries and in Palin attacks during the general.

    Obama marinated in dirty Chicago politics and made all his decisions moving forward on a political basis including his church/pastor!

    He is an expert in community organizing a la Alinsky, media control and you grease my palm, and I will grease yours Chicago style politics! :(

    He is a manipulator who will do/say anything to meet his agenda!

    Obama is still just an arrogant guy who lacks the "nobility of humility."

    December 11, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. epic fail

    They Should have had Powell run for pres.

    Barack vs Powell now that would have been something!

    He is a smart guy and probably one of the few "Republicans" I respect.

    "Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?"

    NO, he is a blathering idiot who has pushed the GOP out of mainstream and into dissaray

    December 11, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. kevin

    Colin Powell is a wise man. A true man...I find his comments to be spot on. As for Rush Limbaugh I totally agree that it is past time to buy into his devisive hatred. Our country can once again rise to the top. We do not Limbaugh to stand in the way.

    December 11, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  8. earle

    Powell didn't seem to mind Rush Limbaugh when he was delivering millions of votes to the Republicans. So much for Colin being a leader, he's just another infatuated worshiper of THE ONE.

    December 11, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. JL

    Powell is so right. I don't have a problem at all with a conservative viewpoint. What I do have a problem with is being called anti-american if I don't agree with it. I really hope the republican party regroups and comes back as a better party.

    December 11, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. Betty

    Thank you General Powell, I am a republican and had to make a choice this election. Palin pushed hate, her rallies looked too much like great white way rally. Bring out the grand dragon! My party does not and should not represent that. We have made some mistakes and have paid for it, now GOP listen to your people who make up the party. We all are not old, stuffy, we are not all rednecks. Let Palin go back to the carabo obscurity she came from. If they are going to use her for a champion of the party, count me out!!

    December 11, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. aware

    I am an Independent but the dirty dems don't inspire confidence or respect! Honey coated rhetoric is just slippery manipulation! :(

    December 11, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  12. rules is rules

    I halfway agree with Powell. I believe the GOP lost the presidency because of the legacy (if you want to call it that) of George W. Bush being the worst president ever. Also, Obama was the better candidate. It had nothing to do with McCain or Palin. I believe they lost the majority of senate seats because of the reasons General Powell has listed. They were on the wrong side of history when the american people truly need help from their government.

    December 11, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. Missy M

    Can we stop beating up on Republicans now?? They lost the election, let the party do some soul searching and regroup! Constantly humiliating them is only going to cause more bad blood.

    December 11, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. bob j

    well said gen powell rush limbaugh is a cancer on this country he thinks he knows everything that wrong with america as an american we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press but we cannot yell fire in a theater and cause a stampede i wish he would go to alaska with gov palin

    December 11, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. Jouxster

    Can we make of list of what minorities want/need to tell Republicans.

    December 11, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. combat24alpha

    Limbaugh/Palin 2012!

    December 11, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  17. Independent

    Anyone who agrees with what Colin Powell said and is also a fiscal conservative should have voted for Ron Paul, like "Jackie in Dallas." Ron Paul won't legislate what people do in the bedroom or who they marry, and he's shown consistent support for fiscal conservatism.

    December 11, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. Daryl from Seattle

    Powell is among those conservatives who realize their party has been hijacked by the so-called 'religious right'. The types who are against abortion, but not against dropping bombs on Muslim children in the middle east because they live where there is a valuable natural resource and follow a different cultural code than we do. Their time is up.

    December 11, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. jarr

    wow, TJClark, you sound really open minded and rational. and to tear down a fellow military man by suggesting he didn't earn it...well that just speaks volumes.

    December 11, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Mavericky

    I have no problem with right winger becoming the minority, as they should be.

    December 11, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  21. Daveq

    Excuse me? What gives Colin Powell the right to dictate to republicans who to listen to? Now he sounds just like a democrat. What a self-important pompous fool. The democrats are far more "divisive" than the Republicans...and they're ruining the country to boot.

    December 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  22. peakarack

    The reason the republic party have lost the past 2 election is because of Bush and the people that served with him and that include U Colin Powell. LOL!

    Bobby Jindal 2012!

    December 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. tim

    The guy goes to the UN with a third grader drawing of suppossed
    WMD and helps start a war and now he wants to lecture others! He
    should keep quiet.

    December 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. Remy

    The current GOP is not the party of Abrahm Lincoln. Now GOP reduced to hate mongers and other people who have all the ILLS of anti-democratic society.

    Palin cried that PATRIOTIC Americans who are the supporters of GOP. What kind of truthless statements she made! That means the Americans who vote against Republicans are un-Patriotic Americans.

    She tried to say all the democrats are unpatriotic Amenricans. Anyway Gen. Powell gave a good answers to Palin and her supporters.

    December 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  25. David S.

    Even though Rush, Hannity, and Savage speak the core of conservative philosphy? Conservatism is color blind, personal liberty is not about skin color. The GOP doesnt divide people, that is reserved for the democrats.

    December 11, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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