December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
6 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. polisciguy

    Obama isnt even a natural born citizen, neither is Powell. These mongrels and all of the libs are bent on one thing, the destruction of the US. Just look what Nancy and Harry have accomplished since 2006 ??? Nada...then the financial markets crashed because Barney and Chris fondled Maxine Waters into stroking Frank Raines and Fanny and Freddy ate the big enchalada and presto the US sinks into depression because derivatives are full of loans that wont be repaid by Americans who have no or bad credit...Powell is so full of himself that he's insulted when Rush calls a Spade a Spade....see you all on CNN when the Big O takes the Big Dive.

    December 11, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  2. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    Hey Gift of the Maji:

    You are one angry person and your examples would be laughable except for your anger. Both sides have their wealthy, ignorant, corrupt, and worthless members (i.e. G.W. Bush never earned a penny of his own). However, I take exception to your statement that you "...expect the feckless Fed. Gov't to get out of my life and just leave me alone." Your party wants to impose one standard of religious thought on the entire American people. Your party wants to meddle in the lives of countless Americans simply because they value reproductive freedom or the ability to love who they see fit. When your party gets out of my doctor's office and the bedrooms of others, then we can talk about having the government stay out of your life.

    December 11, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  3. Grant

    shrub and co. "presided' over the worst adminstration in U.S. History. 9/11 happened on his watch while he was asleep at the wheel. He lied to get us into a quagmire in Iraq, while the real terrorists celebrate in Afghanistan. And the bush financial debacle is the worst since the Great Depression (and it may get even WORSE than that).

    Good riddance, shrub. You and your repugnican cronies have secured your shameful place in history (and hell).

    December 11, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  4. Bill W

    The only differance between Powell & my Senator here in CT, Nothing,
    just another RINO trying to change the principles of the GOP. No more RINO's, or David Gergen on CNN giving advise to or party

    December 11, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  5. jingojoe

    Powell is not a Republican. NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS!

    McCain is not a Republican. NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS!

    Obama won because
    Blacks are racists
    Whites feel guilty
    Conservatives stayed home

    December 11, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. Pat Myles

    I know the left disagrees with the right, but why does that make the right "haters'? It just means they disagree with the left. Please, you out there on the left, bring some clarity to these arguments. What an ugly statement...if you have right wing opinions then you have appealed to our "lesser instincts". How arrogant. Please tell us what these "lesser instincts" are, and why do you think your opinions are more elevated. This is kind of "hate speak" isn't it. "If you think like us on the left then you have great intellect and are a good person, if you think like those on the right then you must be stupid and you have "lesser instincts" and you are a "bad" person.

    Let's see:

    The right believes that evil should be confronted in the world.
    The left doesn't even know what evil is.

    The right believes that you should be able to keep the money you make.
    The left wants to take your money and use it for it's own devices.

    The right wants to protect the rights of the unborn.
    The left can't tell when life begins therefore a baby has the status of a hangnail.

    The right believes you should have the ability to protect yourself. The left wants to take away your guns so you won't have anything to confront an armed intruder.

    Help me lefties...I'm searching for the hate here. The only thing I can see is that the right hates it when the left denies us our liberties and does everything to undermine the very things that have made this country great. Which includes attacking religion, and promoting secularism. Freedom to pursue monetary rewards. Freedom to pursue hapiness. A strong national defense. Even the boy scouts aren't immune to the wrath of the left.

    December 11, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  7. barb

    Mr. Powell is not a Republican, pure and simple. Regarding the minority vote he is 100% correct. The Republicans have to find a way to reach these voters to survive.

    It still mystifies me based on Obama's political background this man was elected. But obviously he offered what our country wanted. Be careful for what you wish for.....

    December 11, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  8. freepatriot

    I love lectures from republicans about how they accept "personal responsibility". Didn't presnit bunnypants just tell the West Point Cadets about how he regretted the "mistaken intelligence" that led to the invasion of Iraq. Notice how george convieniently forgets how he MANUFACTURED that evidence.

    Nothing says "Personal Responsibility" like blaming the CIA for your own PHONY Intelligence

    White House Iraq Group

    nuff said

    it's only Crimes Against Humanity

    December 11, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  9. Elguero

    Go Rush go!
    I cannot understand why being "pro US", "pro military", "pro self initiative", "pro capitalist" "pro baby rights" is SO unacceptable the new "majority" in this country.

    If we continue to lower the bar in celebration of achievement, de-emphasize all responsibilities and squash any pro patriotic sentiments this country won't be anything like it was. Some people think that would be a shame. That's all folks from the redneck South – :)

    Oh I forgot one thing... Get with the program and learn Spanish now – I want you to talk to me in my tongue. Gracias -

    December 11, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  10. marine43

    My God what a bunch of delusional idiots! Hey you have your boy in office! So quit whining! Oh thats right , thats what liberals do! Well enjoy obama while he lasts. If blogo doesn't bite him, surely his past will eventually. You talk about gop tactics! hahahahaha my , i guess that dems never look in the mirror! I'm looking forward to 4 yrs of entertainment. Like today when at the press conference... barry " i, uh , uh uh what i mean to say is uh i , we didn't uh meet um with uhh blogo. Yeah for a bunch of athiests you sure have alot of faith! Faith that barry is untainted by the cess pool that spawned him. I have faith that like typical losers , the liberals will devour each other.

    December 11, 2008 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  11. Briana the college student

    Colin Powell is right on the money and you can tell by the comments. A bunch of conservatives shouting.

    December 11, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  12. Pat Myles

    I know the left disagrees with the right, but why does that make the right "haters'? It just means they disagree with the left. Please, you out there on the left, bring some clarity to these arguments. What an ugly statement...if you have right wing opinions then you have appealed to our "lesser instincts". How arrogant. Please tell us what these "lesser instincts" are, and why do you think your opinions are more elevated. This is kind of "hate speak" isn't it. "If you think like us on the left then you have great intellect and are a good person, if you think like those on the right then you must be stupid and you have "lesser instincts" and you are a "bad" person.

    Let's see:

    The right believes that evil should be confronted in the world.
    The left doesn't even know what evil is.

    The right believes that you should be able to keep the money you make.
    The left wants to take your money and use it for it's own devices.

    The right wants to protect the rights of the unborn.
    The left can't tell when life begins therefore a baby has the status of a hangnail.

    The right believes you should have the ability to protect yourself. The left wants to take away your guns so you won't have anything to confront an armed intruder.

    Help me lefties...I'm searching for the hate here. The only thing I can see is that the right hates it when the left denies us our liberties and does everything to undermine the very things that have made this country great. Which includes attacking religion, and promoting secularism. Freedom to pursue monetary rewards. Freedom to pursue hapiness. A strong national defense. Even the boy scouts aren't immune to the wrath of the left.

    December 11, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  13. Tanduck

    Why are you "Progressives" so upset? So strident? The way most of you are reacting you'd think McCain had won. The reason he lost was he was a Democrat in everything but name. Maybe you're scared because you see the coming train wreck of the Obama-nation Administration. (It's starting even before the swearing in). Change??? His cabinet is just a bunch of Clinton re-treads. The Liberals, oops "Progressives " can stay with the Dems. The rest of us will just have to stay with the GOP and hope it will get back to its true roots.

    December 11, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  14. grunt

    Balance please. I'm a vet, served as an em and got out as an O6, Colonel for you peaceniks and fools.While the Powell Doctrine makes for an interesting case study, I much prefer the Storm'n Norman approach to combating evil, as in Gulf War 1. Powell and Norm were at odds because Powell was a student of war and Norm was a warrior. I like and respect Powell but I want to serve under Norm. Powell was way to political and worried about what non-military types and the press would say. Norm was apolitical and wanted to let us loose the dogs of war and kill the bad guys, the more the better. Norm wanted to go to Baghdad in Gulf War 1, Powell convinced Bush 1 to stop. The tactical mission of a combat operations is to destroy your enemy's will to fight. Powell never understood this and I thank the good Lord that the commanders I served under never bought into the Powell's thinking.

    December 11, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  15. Gator

    When all of you educated elitist who think you are smarter than Sarah Palin, President George Bush, who by the way had higher grades in college than your hero John Kerry, get elected to either the presidency or governorship of a state, perhaps you should stop calling them dumb or stupid. I guess those of you who call the republicans all the vicious names seem to forget what is going on in Illinois and what went on in Louisiana. No one party is responsible for all immoral, illegal, actions. When our country goes down remember what you have done to help destroy it.

    December 11, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. Mike in Toronto

    Hed Ted, I don't want to start an international 'situation' here but since you asked about Canada, let me tell you: It is the ONLY G8 country NOT in recession–in fact we expect modest GROWTH in our economy next year. No bank has failed here. Ever! And oh yes, Honda is still building plants here because the public health care plan means the cost of labour is actually LOWER than in Alabama even though the hourly wage is higher. In other words, the government pays for our health care out of our collective taxes so manufacturers don't have to.Thanks for asking Ted. BTW, most of us Canadians still love and respect the USA even though we can't understand why so many of you are bitter and angry–especially if you really believe what you say about your country. For me, and so many others,the election of Obama means America still has greatness at its core. take heart. And don't be afraid of gay marriage. Straight people still get married too.:)

    December 11, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  17. Robert Folsland

    Rush may be full of himself, but he is right on the money 99% of the time. No one else on the radio or TV even comes close to him when it comes to acurately portraying current events...the why's and wherefore's. People were wanting a change, but I'm afraid the "messiah" is not the change they were looking for unless socialism and total collapse of the free markets that made our country great are what they want. They say you know a man by the company he keeps, and If you look at his friends, they leave a lot to be desired. The public will never know the truth about his relationships with all the Chicago politico's, which is a cesspool of corruption.

    December 11, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  18. Herb Salisbury

    Can we learn anything from a general who only made it because of affirmative action? He blows with the wind. All I ever see him do is draw on a chalk board during the Kuwait war on liberal CNN. Now he is in the Obama camp because of color. Maybe if the liberal so called general listened to Rush he might get informed more. Then he might ask Obama to produce his real birth certificate from Kenya and not hide his phony one in Hawaii. He might ask why Obama is not releasing his Harvard tuition records. Who in the Arab world paid for his tuition Mr. Powell? Even the supreme court is in bed with the ones promoting the Obama machine. What about Obama being an English subject since his father was from Kenya? How can you be an English citizen at birth and also be an American citizen Mr. Powell the affirmative action genius? Why hasn't CNN had the guts to even report the news?
    Herb Salisbury
    Herb Salsibury

    December 11, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  19. Sue

    Mr. Powell made a total A– of himself years ago. He wanted glory and presitge and sold his soul – WELL, now he wants to buy it back???
    Burn Colin, burn ,with your self serving attitudes!!!!

    December 11, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  20. Ravi

    The Republican Party has abandoned the very values which it was founded upon. Values that President Lincoln strongly championed. When I turned 18 many years ago, I was so excited about calling myself a Republican and casting my very first vote for Bob Dole in 1996.

    The GOP of today is a shadow of its former self. Fiscal conservatism has been jettisoned in favor of a militant Radical Christian agenda which holds that White Christian people are the only ones who have a right to call themselves Americans. To hell with minorities, non-Christians, progressive Christians, LGBT Americans, and anyone else who doesn't represent the very ugliest of the human species.

    That basically sums up why I left the Republican Party in 2000. This year, 2008, I proudly re-registered as a Dem and even more proudly cast my vote for Barack Obama! I vote on social issues, not fiscal.

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  21. The Spartan

    General, it's obvious that you've found a party that speaks to your values. A party that supports abortion on demand, gay marriage and the ACLU attacks on religious expression. You've found a party that speaks to you, Sir. A party that defends the free expression of the perverted while attacking traditional family values and the traditions rooted in Judeo-Christian ethics. You've found a party that supports corrupt politicians in Chicago, New York and Louisiana; which rewards the lazy by stealing the earnings of hardworking men and women. You stand with a party that ransacks institutions like Fannie Mae, lining their pockets with public funds. You stand with a party supported by corrupt public unions who fail to serve the public; teachers unions that fail to educate while lobbying for more money. You stand with the party that accuses your fellow Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan of war crimes while seeking defeat at all costs; who give aid and comfort to our enemies. You ask us in the GOP to become more like these craven souls, to appeal to a wider group.

    I say 'NO!!!' No to you and to anyone who would ask me to set aside my principles for political expedience. You've found your party Mr. Powell and your endorsement of Mr. Obama becomes the declaration of your party affiliation. I'd rather burn the GOP to the ground before I let it become a pale copy of the democrat party, and the sooner people like you and David Brooks remove yourselves, the stronger the GOP becomes.

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. G.R.I.T.S - Girl Raised in the South

    Westy: your Republican president is an admitted cocaine user, as well. He is also a drunk. He also palled around with Saudi oil princes and their terrorist friends. Suck on that.

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Happy Conservative & Rushie

    Hey, Colin and "Drive By" Media Players...

    Thanks for stirring up the Revolution. As our Founders proudly proclaimed, don't tread on me!

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  24. Michael

    First off, being a Conservative doesn't limit one to any particular party. Look at Senator Ben Nelson, Democratic Senator from Nebraska. The GOP might be on hard times, but Conservatism isn't.

    Seconly, when Conservative issues went before the polls stripped of party affiliation this last election, they did very well, whether banning racial preferences in affirmative action or banning gay marriage. That point cannot be ignored.

    Third, every generation seems to have to live through a "Jimmy Carter" type presidency to innoculate them from ever falling for that type of guy in the White House for the rest of their lives. Obama is that president for those of you who weren't trying to earn a paycheck in 1979. Those of you under 40, get ready to find all about the "misery index", which will soon make its reappearance...;-)

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  25. chris from stl

    Current day republicans have become very narrow minded, inflexible and bound to 16th century ideology. As times change you need to change and adapt to what is good and working .... T

    he case in point is those republican nutcases (sen. Shelby and his Republican pals of foreign car manufacturers) who are bent on ruining the big 3 and turn the whole country in ti further misery and economic turmoil ....

    I sincerely pray and hope that the big 3 will survive through Jan 20 till dems and Obama can address bridge loan to them ....

    Hang in there the hard working blue collar workers of big 3. May god bless you and your families ....

    December 11, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
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