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. The Spanish Fox

    General Powell, by supporting affirmative action, has himself stated that he wants positions to be distributed on the basis of color and ethnicity. This is also the Democratic position. There is no principle involved in this, only political expediency, as the White birth rate is lower than every other ethnic group in the country. The minorities are doing now by law, what the majority once did by custom.

    December 11, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. ScottNY

    Powell is a lightweight. Vastly overrated as presidential material at one time, his main occupation now is attending dinner parties in DC, all the while acting smug.

    The Republican party will shift more conservative, and not a minute too soon. It needs to balance the left wing fruit cakes, many of who call this blog their home, lol. The Democrats are the party of the wimps and weenies. They need to be crushed like bugs.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. Irena

    The republican right has gone so far right that the lifeline won't even extend far enough to save them. The middle contains the most votes...not the extreme ends either way. I believe the nation made the right choice with Obama...and I hope to see Powell tapped at least to an advisory position for the Obama admin.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. scollins

    Well, good for him. But I don't think the general listens to Limbaugh. Most of the time I hear Limbaugh talk about personal responsibility ( a conservative view) verses let the government solve your problems (a liberal view). So, the general is probably a moderate republican. Anyhow, this is America and everyone is entitled to their freedom of speech and opinion.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I'll join Colin Powell and call for a boycott of any advertisers supporting Limbaugh's radio broadcast and website. Please join this boycott too!

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. PFN

    Montogomery Gregory– your comments are typical liberal drivel. "incite anger and hatred "??? Give me a break. I'm sure that you have never listened to Rush Limbaugh, so you speak from ignorance.
    Palin and Rush speak straightforward and honestly, not the pathetic "winding road" type of nonsense that we heard from Obama every day. The only way for Republicans to EVER win again is to listen to them more.
    Powell has pretty much lost all my respect and now proven Rush right (as he usually is)– as his comments here show that it was race that motivated his support of Obama.
    Pathetic.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  7. whosebone

    Powell is a little weasel.
    Because Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, et al exposes on a daily basis the lies of the left is no reason to stop listening to them.
    The left cannot win debates in the arena of ideas so feels it must silence conservative thought, nothing new about that.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. Kathleen

    Colin Powell, John McCain, John Kerry, and Jack Murtha all serve as examples of men we should respect for the mere fact of their service to this country. However, one act does not grant a lifetime of impunity for future actions. These men have built a political career based on the single fact that they, as millions of others, have served our country. All are opportunists and none have earned the right to be elevated to a position whereby their opinion should have any more influence on Americans than the retired soldier who lives down the street. Colin Powell's sense of entitlement is most offensive and his relentless and immature verbal tantrums are tainting what was left of what some considered a prestigious career.

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. energy

    Mr. Powell is confused!! Who made you Secretary of State? Who made Condi Secretary of State and National Security Adviser? I am not against Obama, but Republicans have done more to the Blacks than DAMONcrats!

    Before I forget, who deceived America to war? The answer is Colin Powell, the Flip Flopper. Shame on you, Colin Powell!!

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. Buddy In Pa

    The Republican Party has not been hijacked by the Religious Right.

    The Republican Party has been taken over completely by the Ultra-Rich and Greedy who will hoodwink and lie to any group or person to maintain their power – too BAD too many in the Religious Right Group have had the WOOL pulled over their eyes by this GREEDY SELF SERVING GROUP. This group of MISLEAD Religious Right Christians are giving ALL Christians a bad name.

    I for one left the Republican Party after 20 years to become a Democrat and vote for Barack Obama both in the PRIMARY & GENERAL Elections…As did many others of the CHRISTIAN BASE who still have enough sense to look at all the issues and all the merits of ALL the Candidates !!!

    Colin Powell is one of these kind of CHRISTIANS TOO !!!

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. Kmp;

    Rich what a sad little world you must live in. This country regardless if it was founded and run primarily by white men has had many minorities who have been influential in its developement and growth.

    I happen to be a white person who is thrilled that Barack is our next president and agree with what Colin Powell is saying. It is time that polarization on both sides stops it doesn't help anyone.

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Dave

    I'll join Colin Powell and call for a boycott of any advertisers supporting Limbaugh's radio broadcast and website. Please join this boycott too!

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  13. Mongo Charlie

    Gimmie a break! Rush is just apolitical satarist. Since when was he the spokeman for the Republican Party.

    Now, if there ARE conservative Republicans who share the same views of Limbaugh, then, the comment about listening to him is pretty stupid.

    I had a lot of respect for Gen. Powell, but now I am seeing him as he truly is.

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  14. EMC

    Wow! Powell and the liberal bloggers posting on here sound so inclusive. It's too bad they don't see their own hypocrisy. Democrats and fake republicans are the height of arrogance.

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. jkiel

    I am kind of fed up with the liberals who think that if you didn't support obama you are racist. I actually wanted to see powell run for president. I would have voted for the man. The problem with obama is that he is a product of the chicago polital racket machine which has existed for about a century. If you read todays papers about the illinois governor and the slimey connection involving obamas replacement in the senate you get a glimps of the ilk which will be exposed when the rocks start getting turned over. It will be ugly. count on it.
    jkiel
    Ormond Fl

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. thebronze

    Who cares what Colin Powell thinks? He wasn't that great of an Army Officer and he sure as Hell isn't a good Republican. Eff him. I'll take Rush over Colin any day!

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. Jon Davis

    There are nothing but radical extremists in the Republican Party because the Republican Party wants it that way. Racism and religious bigotry are the GOP's core principles, which is why Powell supported Obama and Lieberman, a religious fanatic, supported McCain. Here in NM, the head of the Bernalillo County Republican Party (headquartered in Albuquerque) said that Hispanics shouldn't vote for Obama because African-Americans are the descendents of slaves while Hispanics are the descendents of conquistadores (I bet Native Americans, who are actually an important voting bloc in NM, loved that one).

    But it was heartening that Hispanics here overwhelmingly voted for Obama...even though priests here were actively attacking Obama from the pulpit. The wisdom of the people beat the wisdom of the church.

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. Nostromo

    You know the reason minorities will run the country is because people of European descent have voted to let them. No where in the world has this transfer taken place except here in the "racist" US. If there is any testament to how non racist the US is, it is this demographic and political shift taking place with the consent of evil white people. Get over it general, soon you wont have any one to blame for stuff.

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. Walburga

    Colin Powell crossed party lines and I don't believe it had anything to do with taking a higher road. He's just offended because Rush criticized him so he is doing a "tit for tat" thing which doesn't look very respectable to me!

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. Ted:Canada

    Hate to say it – but the GOP is "dead in the water"

    You need to change from "ideology based" to a "pragmatic based" party approach with a heavy flavor on "leadership persona" which is at least half the battle...

    Ideology failed you – "government has to bail out business – resulting recession”

    Persona failed you – "Bush, MCain amd Palin – need I say more…

    Helpful hint! – “put education first”

    Best of luck! Be good!

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  21. Robert

    Hear, hear Rich. The "turning" is showing up everywhere – the economy, education, military superiority, global respect and the media...re-elect absolutely no one for two (2) terms and see where we go...get out and vote!

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. California Steamin

    Please, Colin DO NOT tell me who I should or should not listen to. I am smart enough to make up my own mind when it comes to talkers like Rush Limbaugh. If the Republican Party and its values are so wrong for America WHY is RUSH the most listened to talk show host in the nation with more than 20 million listeners a week tuning in. Gov Palin is still very popular. The only problem with the GOP is wishy-washy, weak kneed moderates like you, Powell, and McCain who can;t win elections. We need more conservatism not less. Hey Colin you didn;t seem to mind conservative values when REAGAN was President. You lapped it up.

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Peter (CA)

    Wow Dennis D.....I guess that is why your side lost.

    Obama used a truth: others were trying to subtlely using his image against him. A local Repulbican women's club put his picture on a "Obama buck" with pictures of terrorists and fried chicken. And this has nothing to do with race?

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. rejoyce2

    I listen to all sides. As a conservative its time we get back to conservative values and adjust to the times. Like abortion. Its a lost cause to try and get roe vs.wade overturned but we can focus on getting info out there so there are less abortions taking place, As Republicans we shouldn't be bailing out all these companies because we don't have the money. We should be focusing on getting out of Iraq instead of telling the public we could be there for 100 years. We did our job now let the Iraquis take over.

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Mongo Charlie

    spokesman.....satirist! Sorry

    December 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
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