December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
12 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. Herman

    I don't listen to Limbaugh, but silencing him forcibly with the "fairness doctrine," as many Dems would like to do, is a fascist approach.

    December 11, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  2. David

    I am slightly left leaning democrat and I agree with Colin Powell. Right wing radio is killing the Republican party. They just name call and throw around labels and innuendo. Yes there is high listenership ... but it is basically the same niche. Uneducated , lower income white men angry at the world. Its very sad these people allow themselves to be brainwashed when the rest of the country sees these fools for who they are – MEAN, NASTY NEGATIVE PEOPLE that can only attack others that disagree with them , instead of having intellectual , healthy debate

    December 11, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Peter (CA)

    Thge right wingers bleating about "Chicago-style" politics must have forgotten the slime that the Rove machine produced. Or the Willie Horton campaign or Lee Atwater's drive to turn "liberal" into a dirty word.

    It appears we are looking at sour grapes from those who lost by the same means by which they usually win.

    December 11, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Jon

    Someone said it best- religion has NO place in politics!!

    I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal..What does that make me??

    I am with POWELL 100% of the way...

    December 11, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. RDW

    So what many of you are saying is that you want to stop free speech. Well maybe when Obama get his civilian national security force in place you can do that. I wonder if Obama will call them Brown Shirts.

    Joseph Lloyd- It is clear that you do not understand FREE MARKET CAPITALISM. It is not for the rich….it is for those that are willing to get off their rear ends and take a risk. Something it appears that you have not done.

    Slumber Jack-You really need to do some research on how this crisis started. You may want to start with Barney Frank and then work on Chris Dodd.

    OH! By the way! Global Warming (caused by man is a joke) Do you not understand that we live on a dynamic planet that is ever changing. When it stops changing we will be living on a dead planet.

    December 11, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. Jamison Ashby

    Powell is not a Republican. He is for whoever he sees as winning. He was almost Clinton's running mate in '92. He was for John McCain in 2000 but against him in 2008? Come on now... Rush is on the air because people want to listen to him. If you don't want to, don't listen. You have that choice because this is a free country. In part due to Powell and his comrades fighting for that right. If you dems get your way and start regulating the airwaves, that choice, that freedom will be gone. Obama is our president elect. I get that. BUT, it was 51% to 49% so don't act like everyone is happy about it.

    December 11, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  7. Ron

    I think Powell finally shows his true colors!

    December 11, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. dusa

    Colin who?

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. Tmoney

    Democrats mostly divided the country. Obama is a decent man, but people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi cheered the downfall of the US economy to make Bush look bad. They didn't do ANYTHING the last 4 years.
    I am independent, and very much supportive of Obama, but the Democratic leadership is the worst. Rush is an idiot, but he's a talk show host, not speaker of the house.
    The real problem is politicians with a commitment to party over country.
    I might sound like a right-winger when I say this, but "Nancy, you inspired me to purchase a handgun for Christmas." I am an economist and I see absolute failure on the horizon.

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. nm

    Love You, Rush 24/7 !

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. Unabashadly Conservative

    I think that Powell should get off this "we" thing when he refers to the Republicans. Hey, general, last I checked you don't really fit the conservative mold. More of a lukewarm liberal if you ask me. Any conservative worth his salt would never have voted for a socialist under any circumstance. Quit hedging on why you really voted for Obama, I would respect you more if you did.

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Adrian

    Conservatism is about empowering the individual and limiting government....

    ITs so clear that is site is just filled with uneducated people.

    We are about individual freedom to speak, practice a religion, defend ourselves, open businesses free of government ties that bind us. Its about exploring god given opportunities to improve ourselves and our families.

    But you so called "smart" people want the government to be mroe intrusive. Your policies punish success and reward failure and those who refuse to participate in this great society in the fullest of ways.

    In are all wrong. And the "right" is all right.

    The end...for now

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. ryan

    ha ha ha Mr. Powell is so funny. Terribly out of touch, but funny.

    December 11, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. Bigswingingdick

    The whole Dem Party appeal is to "lesser instincts" . It appeals to those who envy the successful and are lazy and greedy. "You don't have to work- the government will give it to you".

    Dem Party = Communist Party

    Good night comrades!!

    December 11, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. scarp

    Mr.Powell has lost ALL credibility some time ago when he sold the world on the Iraq war. He is irrelevant.

    December 11, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. Jeff Borthen

    Being a conservative is a philosophy, not a catering to groups. The individual is the most important. He or she must understand the concept of government . Government is a way to protect it's people & do only the basic things that are required.

    December 11, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Whitey

    The GOP and Rush were quite OK for Powell for many years, but now that he has teamed up with porky Oprah and and the brain-dead, corrupt left.........

    December 11, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  18. gabe lucas

    I admire Colin Powell, but really...he can change the dial like everyone else with aposable thumbs! Does he really want to do away with free speech? I listen to Rushbo and NPR. Both have saturation levels, but don't tell me what I can or cannot listen to, please. This is not police state (yet!)..

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. JoJo Starbuck

    Hate to say it, TED...but Canada is dead in the water. The main contribution to the world from Canada is the hockey puck.

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. Jeff

    I'm loving every minute of this. Mr. Powell hit the nail squarely on the head, and yet people within his own party are too arrogant to listen. Limbaugh and his "dittoheads" have destroyed the Republican Party.

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  21. Billy

    Wow. Read all this vitriole aimed at Powell. One funny thing I've noticed about conservatives(Limbaugh, Hannity, etc) :is that they love our men and women in uniform but will turn on them in a heart beat if these heros disagree with them politcally. Look how Hannity supported the swift-boaters. It turns my stomach how he and others will tear a part those that put themselves in harm's way for this great country. They're intellectually and morally dishonest. However, they have the right to speak their foolishness to the ignorant sheep who feed off of their hate. I agree that there is too much left-wing bias in the mainstream media, but pin-headed bafoons, regardless of how articulate they are, aren't the answer. When Rush tells Barbara Walters how he "loves" Sarah Palin, it gives us a clear insight into this narrow-minded vision that he, Coulter, and Hannity, et al, have in mind for this country. It's backwards, old school, and truly pathetic. This past election showed that we as a country are so much better than that. Thank God!

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |

    this man should be running the show....

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. Minnesotaman

    Powell is what is wrong with the Republican party and the anti american left which voted for Obama. No true Republican ever voted for Obama! The simple fact is it is the left who wants to take away free speech. It is the left who do not understand the constitution and the freedoms that lie within. It is the left that whats government to control your lives and the dishonest, unqualified, socialist Obama represents this thought. We know Powell voted for Obama because he was black. He is like a leftist idiot I overheard the otherday who said he could not wait to vote for a black man for President as it shows how far american has come... yes to stupidity! Who are the true racists? They are the ones who vote color over ideas. Rush is the pinnacle of the free market and as long as he says what people want to hear he will be on top. The left can not compete in the free market of ideas. They need to rely on race, on a pretty face, and on a smooth talker devoid of ideas for power.

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. Lucy

    The idiot that called republicans confederates proved his total ignorance of history....the democrats were the nation splitting confederates then as they are now!!

    December 11, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Frank

    Powell has become a small and petty man. What on Earth is he talking about? – Republicans yelling at the world? His analysis is bizarre. Obama won the election because the economy collapsed and McCain (a moderate) ran an awful campaign. Fareed Zakria is another feeble man. I hope folks remember this comments when the pendulum swings back to the Republican party, which will happen quicker than you think.

    December 11, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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