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. Greg

    It's too bad that hard work and personal responsibility seem to only appeal to old white religious whackos. I'm sorry, General, that you and your people expect me to lower my standards in order to appeal to you. It just isn't gonna happen. Old white religious whackos have built the greatest nation this earth has ever experienced. I don't see too many folks knocking down the fences so they can break into the Congo or any other African or Hispanic nation.

    December 11, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. I am the GOP too

    " WHY is RUSH the most listened to talk show host in the nation with more than 20 million listeners a week tuning in. "

    If that's true, why did the Presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representative ALL change parties in the last 2 years, with RUSH(!) mouthing his blather? Obviously, 20 million CAN be wrong, or not right, when 60 million vote the other way. Powell is right.

    December 11, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  3. Spider

    Republicans fail to heed Gen Powell's advice at their own peril. He is exactly right and anyone who fails to at least introspectively consider his comments for the good of the GOP, are burying their heads in the sand. Oh well, that's what you get when ideology trumps realism.

    December 11, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. desperado1

    Boy, talk about hate-filled - you so-called progressives take the cake.
    The last time I looked, the Bush administration had more minorities and women in positions of authority than any Democratic administration EVER had. Groups of you spew out lie after lie about conservatives, and your ignorant followers believe every word. You never give examples of how the Republican party is supposedly hate-filled and bigoted, and I have seen and heard the most foul language among your party. You don't listen to Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham, yet you call them names and lie about what you think they may have said. Amazing.

    December 11, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. Ranger Tab

    General you get peered out on this one!

    December 11, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. John Campbell

    I always get a kick out of it when leftists pretend to be so concerned about the opposition that they start giving them political advice. For years we've heard how lefties care more for my children than I do and yet they still don't know their names.

    Socialist medicine has been a favor in Powell's eyes along with other things that places him anywhere but Conservative and Republican. With Britain and Canada as shining examples of the failures of socialist medicine one would think such information would deter such efforts, yet the left is still at it.

    The real failing we have right now is having allowed creeping socialism into government as it is and that is a direct result of the failure of our education system and parenting. It's allowed corrupt politicians to gain office and caused our current economic issues. Welcome to the socialist utopia.

    December 11, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. MAJ

    The Grand ole Party will not succeed with what I heard at Palin and McCain's campaigns. The 2008 Republican convention was all white.The nation wants no part of the bitterness and the divisiveness as a whole.

    December 11, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. Kevin

    The GOP ran the biggest moderate in the party at one of the biggest socialists in the Democratic party... and lost... and Colin Powell (who jumped ship anyway) says that the GOP needs to be MORE moderate?


    December 11, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Bill

    Did Colin Powell notice the contortions with which the Republicans avoided using ANY reference to race, even as Obama and the Dems baited them, "they're going to say, 'Btw, he's black!'"

    'Reaching out' to minorities seems only to mean more gov't programs, more set-asides, more sops to education and fed. employee unions.

    There're v. few black Republicans because to be black and Republican is to be branded a race-traiter. Conservative principles do not fly with minorities that have been brainwashed to rely on their 'leaders' and gov't.

    December 11, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. gabriel j hyppolite

    If you want Rush off the air, next will be the rolling stones music, the beatles, and any other conservative radio program... and anybody that the next administration desires to be off the air.... remember the beginning of the 3rd reich!!! how sad to see this country going to socialism and communism , i came here 37 years ago and never thought i would consider leaving... but if cannot listen to what i want , what is the point of living in a country where my freedom is limited...? Colin Powell is a Hasbeen... but probably will get a post in the new administration, if the scandals that just started don't make it too difficult for him...nobody these days has cojones ....

    December 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. Michael

    to californiasteamin,
    Well this is a great example of the republican problem. No one will except your claim to be conservative because we see what your party actually does when it has power. I think you should just call it the Rush party and be done with this talk of conservatism. It really doesn't suit you guys anyway. For instance; I" bet you avail yourself of every government program you qualify for – don't you?

    December 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Republican

    General Powell,

    Please remind me exactly which elections you've participated in as a candidate or campaign manager that qualifies you to advise Republicans on campaign strategy?

    December 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  13. Tim

    You read the above comments from the left and you pick out words like, devisive, racist, bigited, alienating, hate mongers, angry white men, Stepford wifes, religous nut cases, ect.
    Never once have you noticed ,do they ever try to convince us why their left wing, Marxist philophisy is the correct one to follow. Why is it better for government to take your hard earned money, and give it to the lazy and unmovitated among us. Why is it better to let tierany have its way in the world, rather than standing up to evil and stop it. Why do they never applaud the fact that the US freed 50million Islamics from slavery oppression and tyariny. Why do the left oppose something as simple as showing an ID at the voting booth?

    December 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Bud Fox

    I served under General Powell's command command twice. Back then it was all about him, and no one else. It looks like it is still all about him. General Powell should take a page out of MacArthur's playbook book "... and just fade away."

    December 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. Chris

    Powell has a distinguished record of service, but is not a real Republican. Real Republicans are conservatives.

    Seriously, why should Republicans care what he says when he endorsed a Democrat for President instead of a fellow veteran with a long record of service?

    Republicans lose when they act like Democrats. They should be listening MORE to conservatives, not ignoring them.

    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  16. Maria

    Mr. Powell lost any credibility as a Republican or conservative when he came out for Obama. His opinions are of no value or consecuence, Mr. Limbaugh actually stands for something other than political expediency.

    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Black Prince

    We should only listen to what Colin says. He knows what is best for all Americans. He is not an elete snob. He knows how to win elections because he has won uh, how many?


    If the republican party does not start following what Rush suggests, they had better become accustomed to being the minority party because we conservatives ARE NOT going to support any more candidates like Bush or McLame and for dam sure, we are not going to support ANYONE like Colin Powell.

    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Phil Dirt

    It means so much to me to hear a Democrat in Republican clothing lecture me about my party.

    Colin, your time is up. Shut up and go home.

    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. Jayel Jay

    I believe that the differing points of view are very important. Interesting to note that the call to silence some broadcasters is directed towards those who dare to bring forth facts, not varnished/tarnished, just the facts. We are capable of making our own decisions regardless of who says what! Funny how power quickly jams brain cells cementing them into a standard walk. Remember when everyone except the powerful in China, all wore the same clothes? Guess what. A little more of shutting down differing points of view and we won't recognize anyone except those in POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  20. ellen

    Based on what I read above, Americans are becoming a majority of minorities. Maybe Powell will be proven right when, in twenty years, we look around and find very few white faces left. What will our country be like then? Mexico with it's drug crime, violence, & poverty? How about the Africian nations? More of the same. Just heard about the Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwee. ??Cholera, can you imagin! It's a disease born of filth, ignorance & overpoplulation. I'm old enough to remember when Zimbabwee was a country called Rhodesia & was a much better place to call home. At least if you like clean running water and plumming that works. Of course it was owned and run by the British, those fiends. I don't see Mr. Powell or any of the rest of you bloggers who agree with him, leaving the good ol USA to take up roots in a country that does understand the "hearts and minds" of the voters. Oh, wait – a lot of those countries don't have elections, you can't vote. Ghee, I forgot.

    I think all of you should stop complaining, pull your heads up out of the sand, take a really good look around, because this might just be the very last time you will see a country that is: The 'home of the free and the land of the brave.


    December 11, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  21. Honestintellect

    Dear General Powell

    Do you really understand what happened during the last four years with the Soros 70 and Warren Buffet. Are you blind or did you just (Blago) profit from your endorsement?

    Soros and his band of 70 which ultimately included Warren Buffet played the futures of oil up to crash our economy. Even without my tinfoil hat, I believe it was a conspiracy. Buffet made 10 billion dollars in the 1st,2nd, & 3rd quarters when the market went down each month. This band of lefty wackos did a number on all of us.

    I believe the crash was manipulated to elect Obama, but it went too far. Now Obama's aging face tells the story......

    You have to earn my respect, I don't give it out for free.

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. poysunivy

    Maybe, if Al Frankenstein can't succeed in stealing that seat in Minnesota, he can go back and revive that bankrupt Air America. If you think this jerk can succeed where he flopped before, then, by all means put him in Rush's position. You liberal idiots just don't get it. People listen to Rush. He is a genius. Franken has failed at everything he has ever tried. You would give your left marble and mortgage your right to have a Rush on your side.

    Democrats are not smart people.

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  23. Gift of the Maji

    Ted from Canada:

    Thanks for the sage advice... how's socialism working out for you up there?

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Jim Webster

    Hey, Colin Powell, I will continue to listen to Rush but I have stopped listening to you a long time ago or ever since you exposed yourself as a RINO. You have no idea what it means to be a Conservative. You are a military man, but as a Republican you turned out to be a dud!

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  25. ynot4tony2

    No...the reason Republicans lost this election is because we let the New York Times and the rest of the Obama-loving media pick our candidate for us.

    Learn from this mistake. You'd never let the Devil recommend a pastor or preacher or priest for you, would you? You'd never let your worst enemy recommend a bodyguard for you, would you?

    Then why in the heck would you let a bunch of liberals tell you to nominate someone like John McCain?!?

    Sorry, Powell (you turncoat), but you're wrong. Conservatism wins elections. Weak-willed Republicans who spend like Democrats and get involved in sex scandals like Democrats lose elections.

    December 11, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
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