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. Fed Up

    Powell the RINO is lecturing conservatives????? Limbaugh shouting at the world?????

    Get real. Ever listen to him? General Powell has NEVER been conservative and is acting like a whiny little child who is not the center of attention. Get over yourself.

    You wrote in your book that you were done with public life and wanted to be a private citizen. May I suggest you follow your dream. Go away.

    December 11, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  2. PackermanDan

    Colin, maybe we should all be moderates like you, so we don't offend the most liberal among us. BAH HUMBUG ,LONG LIVE RUSH ! Don't compromise your core beliefs.

    December 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. Joe the Programmer (Austin, TX)

    I'm still amazed that the Republicans actually thought that divisiveness would work at all. It seems that the central fallacy of their thinking came down to the following:

    Their hateful rhetoric only served to make their base fear Obama more, but it did not make more people fear Obama.

    I just pray that they haven't created any potential domestic terrorists with their fear mongering over the "socialization" of our Country. Apparently their conservative base has learned all the wrong lessons, concluding that they lost because their candidate was not conservative enough. Until the Repubicans get back to the center and start representing the silent majority of their constituency that was disgusted by this election, they're due to walk in the wilderness for a long time.

    Peace.

    December 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. Matchpoint

    Powell ought to just change his reg to Democrat and be done with it. It is good he's not still in the military; his uniform wouldn't look good with whales all over his pants.

    December 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  5. SAGG

    Pepe Le Pew December 11th, 2008 9:05 pm ET

    Rush will be talking about Powell and ya'll on his radio show tomorrow.
    -----

    Rush or not, he'd better be careful. Powell's geniune war hero–wait, the Repubs besmirched Cleland and Kerry, both war veterans, and helped to endorse Bush, who went to the National Guard to avoid Vietnam–and didn't even finish out his service–and Cheney and Chambliss, who used deferants to get out of Vietnam as well–? Uh, well, maybe the General ought to watch out. When the Repubs get desperate, they'll turn on their own in a southern minute...

    December 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. J Baustian

    General Powell sounds like someone who has never listened to Rush Limbaugh, but has formed an opinion based on what Limbaugh's critics have said about him.

    It was good to have Powell in the GOP, but he has turned out to be a not-very-good Republican. Always wishy-washy on the important issues, never able to articulate exactly why he was a Republican, and almost always coming down on the side opposite the majority of Republicans. Maybe comfortable as a RINO, but he has never earned the right to tell the GOP what it ought to do.

    Goodbye, General Powell, enjoy the dinner parties in Georgetown and Manhattan.

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. SAGG

    Pepe Le Pew December 11th, 2008 9:05 pm ET

    Rush will be talking about Powell and ya'll on his radio show tomorrow.
    -----

    Rush or not, he'd better be careful. Powell's a geniune war hero–wait, the Repubs besmirched Cleland and Kerry, both war veterans, and helped to endorse Bush, who went to the National Guard to avoid Vietnam–and didn't even finish out his service–and Cheney and Chambliss, who used deferants to get out of Vietnam as well–? Uh, well, maybe the General ought to watch out. When the Repubs get desperate, they'll turn on their own in a southern minute...

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  8. P. clarck

    I AGREE WITH Mr. Powell, however i think the opportunity to make it , it the responsability of every american ...

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. Liquor is quicker

    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!!!
    -------------------

    Huh? You equate the murder of innocent babies with the name calling by Rush Limbaugh and what Bush did in a time of war to a bunch of terrorists? I can not see how some who professes to be a Christian and against abortion can justify that. No, you don't sound like a Christian at all, or someone who was a republican every. Very fishy, your comments are.

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  10. John M.

    After reading these blogs I am convinced of the hate possessed by many who claim they are conservatives. Many of these so called "conservatives" tend to label anyone, who does not agree with them or their politics, as being "anti-Christ" or worse.

    If we expect America to prosper and continue to be a true democracy those people who employ hate and devisive measures must be ignored. Those of us who love America and want the best for all of its citizens must speak out against the small number of haters without hesitation be it in our homes, the workplace, churches, government, etc.

    There is much to do Americans to save ourselves and not be influenced by this small number of haters! Let us not fail ourselves!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  11. Jerry

    Isn't it just amazing that liberals, especially blacks, hated Colin Powell when he was just another Republican. Now that he crossed over they can't say enough about what a smart man he is. I used to have great respect for the man and would have voted for him if he had run for president. That was before he supported BO because of race. Unfortunately, that is why most people of all races voted for BO. Sad times for America.

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Powll is right in those comments, but since his role in lying to the UN was crucial to America launching the illegal and unwarranted and immoral attack against Iraq, with 1.2 MILLION now dead, I see him as beyond shameful.

    December 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  13. smartypants

    Obviously, the full interview is not available but it is apparent that Mr. Powell offers little in the way of specifics as to what the Republican party needs to do to win favor again. Further, if the Republicans become little more than Democrat-lites, than who really wins? If one gains power by becoming something different than what his principles dictate, what is he?

    The Democrat party has become amazingly left wing in recent years. This is not a party of moderates or compromisers. Yet, Powell is pointing the finger of blame at Republicans. Democrats are praised for sticking to their principles and Republicans are castigated for doing the same thing? I think not.

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  14. banderson

    Well we know that most of these peple didn't vote for Barack Obama. Get over it already and help work to bring this country back together. BTW Colin Powell has done more for this country than any of commentators on this page combined.

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. Hud C

    Dennis D December 11th, 2008 7:22 pm ET

    Wrote....

    Democrats ignored the Obama ties to a known Domestic Terrorist and claim the GOP is extremist?? This is laughable..
    _________________________

    YOU PEOPLE really are something else, the tables are beginning to turn and you can't take it. What ties does Obama have with terrorist, when you or your cousin went to your "meetings" what ties did you have and or they terrorist???

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. cigars71

    Yea, the mushy middle, that did McCain a lot of good. The candidate of the media party was tossed aside by his good friends when their messiah came along. But, now he is back in their good graces because he has signaled to them that he is going to continue destroying his own party to be loved by them.
    Oh, I believe you meant to say "accept" not "except". Must be a glowing example of the teacher's union run public schools.

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. StLouby

    If your left or right or in the middle, replying to this thread only works to play into the hands of the media that loves a good debate.( I know, I see the irony that I am replying as well). In college I remember how satisfied and justified the professors felt when they got a "stimulating" debate going. As far as I was concerned it did less to stimulate thinking and more to cause divide between the students. The professor could then remove themselves from the spotlight and any possible scutiny and get paid the same for less work. Now that I think of it, the media pulls this same stunt......

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. Off Duty

    Oh...and one last thought. Powell is a disgrace, and a turn-coat, republican-in-name-only. He cannot see beyond his mocha toned nose.

    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. Carlos

    Powell is getting creepy now, sounds like a tyrant to me, I thought he was fighting for our right to listen to whomever we want?

    Rush makes is way more sensible than the addlebrained Powell supporting "the messiah"...

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  20. lyn

    colin powell does not now, nor has he ever spoke for conservatives...we will not bow to his marxist rantings. powell has no principles. he proved that to be true when he told the u..n that iraq had nulclear weapons when he didn't really believe it. and again when armitage told powell that he was the one who leaked planes name. powell showed he had no character, nor principles.

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  21. CivilWarNow

    Rush is "hate", but bombing you own country is patriotic according to these childish, leftist posters. The psuedo-educated, MySpace generation has spoken!

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  22. Xixi

    I think it's a bit late for Powell to suddenly become a black liberal after being a white conservative all those years. He has no credibility.

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  23. Roger Louden

    I thought he was smarter than this. He says "In another 20 years, the majority in this country will be the minority."
    How can that be?, is the majority going to stop having sex?

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. Drummer Boy

    Lets elect Rush – King of America!!

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  25. R

    Powell has lost his onions. The cocktail circuit brie and champagne has gone to his head, and I swear him and that Noonan lady, who I am not sure what she does anymore anyway, have dropped any pretense of conservatism. But hey, if he is happy I am happy, just don't speak for me OK? Because you sir are clueless.

    December 11, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
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