December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Powell: GOP 'polarization' backfired in election

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Will

    Someone tell Colin to go fly a kite. Can he make up his mind where he stands/

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. TripDave

    Powell is just doing what most politicians do; cozying up to those with power in hopes of an appointment or endorsement. It was funny watching all the democrats fawn over Mr. Hope & Change. Silly of them to actually think their guy will govern differently. All presidents govern from the center and it has nothing to do with what is best for you and I, the people. It has everything to do with power and control of it. Barry obama is not even in office yet and already he has gone back on his word of repeal of the tax cuts, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, appointing liberal cabinet members and so on. He is already caught lying about the Blogavoich scandal. Enjoy the Obama honeymoon, it will be short lived before we are back to business as usual in Washington.

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  3. George Washington

    Time to kick these foreigners out and recapture our nation – the return of the WASP is coming in full force and when enough of us get fed up with the illegals and the greedy zionist bankers, then we will unite and come down like a hammer – history repeats itself. The WASP has been getting fat and full and prosperous and has allowed the israeli owned media to dictate foreign policy and national policy. The day is coming when the men on the golf courses, in the church pews, at the private school functions will start to chat without fear of being called a hate monger, anti-semite, etc. It is coming – get ready!

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  4. Scott

    Lets not forget who's the party of bigots:
    – it's the democratic party which held up the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the republican party which overwhelmingly voted for it (80% vs 63% of dems.)
    – it was the democratic party which turned the German Sheppards on blacks during the Civil Rights movement.
    – pro-segregationist/presidential candidate George Wallace was a democrat.
    – CURRENT Sentator Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK.
    – IT IS the em party which refuses to allow inner city families the right to choose quality schools of their chosing. (even Pres elect Obama wants his children to have that option, but he refuses to let other (poorer) blacks the oppurtunity.

    Perhaps its the Dem party which should stop with the "polarization."

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. dobo76

    I think Powell is mad because Rush asked what inexperienced white liberals he had endorsed in his career after saying his endorsement of Obama wasn't about race.

    And at what point do principles matter? He says conservatives should look into the hearts and minds of potential voters instead of standing up for principles? And do what? Pander for votes by watering down core beliefs? Someone needs to stand up and say that it is better to lose for standing up unashamedly for what you believe in than to win by compromising your principles. Powell has lost me BIG time...

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. Dave in memphis

    "The Hearts and Minds of African – Americans". Hmmm, I guess African Americans support abortion on demand, even partial-birth abortion, higher taxes (most do, as the urban education doesn't teach economics or basic finance), gay marriage (the african americans love this one, right?), etc. etc. etc.

    When Powell actually runs for something and wins, instead of soaking off the govt. and feeding on the govt. teat, then I'll respect what he has to say. Otherwise, he needs to shut that trap of his. This is a man who has never met a payroll, never had to vote on key issues, never had to stick his neck out at all, but he is the new favored son.

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. Capt_crunch

    Are you kidding, Colin Powelll would ride the coat tails of Satan himself for more publicity and $$$$. He served his country and should be appreciated for that, however hes no politician or person of note in poitical circles. Hes needs to stop changing hats to match changing scenery.

    And to conservatives who'd rather coddle the liberal ideals to buy some votes, thats exactly why we in the west are becoming irrelevant, we cant stand up for higher ideals and values.

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. rus

    LOL. Some stupid people seem to think Colin Powell needs to take revenge on Rush. Colin Powell is just pointing out the obvious.

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. twinstick

    Mmmm. Let me get this right. Colin Powell didn't support John McCain and instead backed Barrack Obama. So, should we really pay any attention to anything he says? It's kind of like taking advice from that U-boat commander from Hyannis, Captian Ted Kennedy on what the GOP needs to do to win...

    December 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. gary

    look at the chicago political thug you endorsed you nitwit. maybe you should listen to rush and figurebout what right and wrong is.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. Daniel P

    What the Republican Party has to to do to be successful is to get back to it's roots of pushing for a much smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. These core principles were abandoned for political expediency and has led the party into it's current wilderness.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. Kathy

    I really related to Powell's statement regarding Rush Limaugh. I am always surprised at the support this 'exclusion monger' receives from the Republican base. It is a sad statement.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. davit

    Not to sure about those socially conservative views. We live in an ever more diverse world, and until the GOP truly supports tolerance, acceptance, and truly equal rights, they will find themselves a party out of step with most of 21st century America.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. William Beck

    Who leaked Valerie Plame General?

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Flash Gorden /-\

    That's RIGHT! NO ONE OWNS America. Especially the religious right and the re'lic party! America is a diversive melting pot and if they want to head into the future with US, they need to clean up their act and quit pushing THEIR agenda on the rest of us!...

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. kharwick

    If we go the way of Colin Powell we might as well tank it right now. I'll take Rush anyday as he and his ilk are the balance to totally in the tank Democrat MSM which is the other alternative.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  17. Maureen, NC

    @California Steamin

    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.
    -------------------------------–I'll tell you why, because we have a lot of bigots in this country. It is easier to blame others (mostly minorities) than to look in the mirror. Rush couldn't care less, he makes his money off of hate speech, but the leaders like Colin Powel and McCain who have been to war and know that all blood bleeds the same, are sick of bigotry and hatefulness. Maybe you should take a lesson from them instead of hatemongers like Rush.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  18. CrusaderPatriot

    This guy simply is trying to justify why he voted for Obama! He won't admit that he voted for him because of race! It's nonsense to blame Rush and others for this loss. McCain was and is immensly better than Obama, however, he was the most liberal Republican candidate we could have had! He would have lost 49 states had it not been for Sara Palin! I've lost all respect for Powell. We will never win another election trying to be more like leftist Democrats! Personally, I will go down fighting, rather than compromise my beliefs to be like the lunitic leftist Obama zombies! Freedom lost in this past election and it won't be long before many of you realize that!

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. Ed

    What does he mean when he says "listen to minorities"? Anyone know? The absolute best thing that could ever happen to minorities is conservatism. That means liberty, equal protection under that law ( equal, not preferential ), and opportunity. That's supposed to be what this country is about. Apparently, "listening to minorities" is code for "have the federal government cut minorities a huge check every month", make them wards of the state in perpetuity, and let the minority rule over the majority.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. TN Todd

    Ted..Canada is a model for the world right....haha

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  21. bigcat

    Conservatism has never lost an election. The democrats picked Mccain by voting in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is Moderate at best. Even Kerry wanted him to be his veep at one point. Your men Frank dodd etal ruined this economy. Why no hearings on this subprime crisis? Oh yeah no republicans are culpable.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Really?

    Logical & Lost in Texas FOREVER:

    Why in the world would Powell come out and say that the reason he voted for Barry was because he was black? As a politician, would that be a 'logical' thing to say? Seriously. Show me the under-qualified, ill-prepared, WHITE DEMOCRATS that COLON Powell was willing to cross party lines and vote for. I didn't think so.
    And Lost in Texas Forever, you really show your 'openness' to listen to other black people when they explain why they voted against Barry. (Yes, I said black. I refuse to use African-American as not only Africans have black skin. Where's the p.c police with that?) Why, lost, would you only listen to the black "Hip-hop Republican" group explain why not to vote for Barry? Why not white people? I thought this was a color-blind least the left claims it to be. Oh and by the way, Barry is half white and raised white so enough with the race card. The hypocrisy of the left is shining through so brightly that all of the left's mindless minions are blinded by it.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. C in VA

    Powell is absolutely right. I'm a registered Republican in VA that voted for Obama. The fact is that the Republican Party has lost it's path. It's too busy trying to ban gay marriage and abortion than to care about what is truely ailing America.

    The only solution is to split the party. I'll guarantee that the socially moderate, fiscally conservative side will win EVERY election, while the socially conservative, big government spending side that keeps bowing to the right will win a couple of seats in GA, AL, and NC.

    Just listening to some of the so called conservatives proves that the not only have the Neo-Cons ruined the Republican party, but they hate America and everything we stand for.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  24. Rod.

    Re. To Doc.

    Do me a favor "Navy Vet", use spell check...loser. Oh, by the way I"m a Navy Vet too.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  25. winterycolorado

    I lost all respect for Colin Powell when he jumped ship to the Dem party this election and I am pretty sure it was a race thing. I am fairly sure his Rep party came down hard on him afterward and he is making statements like this to save face.

    December 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
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