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. consv

    Sure ....get rid of conservatives and what does one have left? may as well just have one party.

    December 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Bill

    Republicans are crazy and angry sore losers. They hate this country so much they want Obama to fail. Whack jobs with no common sense or information.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. William Tucker

    This country was founded by northern Europeans, on principles derived from the Enlightenment. The Civil War to end slavery was fought by the same breed of people, and WWII was won by them as well. Now that illiterate Hispanics, blacks, and other minorities have been allowed to flood the country, to soon become the majorities, we will see the country decline to the level of all other countries dominated by such people. The white European-derived male, despised by liberals and minorities alike, is the man who brought the world the great benefits that it now enjoys, the medicine, technology, and philosophy, and who founded America and its constitution. It looks like that is about to end. It will be looked back upon as a golden age by the benighted people who will inhabit the America of the future.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. Katepatate

    By the way Mr. Powell, don't tell me who to listen to. Whom do you think I should be listening? Keith Olberman? Not is this life!!!

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Marie

    Good for Powell – he's finally found his voice. I'm ready for Rush and Hannity and O'Reilly to move on.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Conservatives Need to Hold True to Values

    There was a day when Collin Powell was both believable, and respectable.

    The Obama House of Cards is falling - maybe the media and all the henchmen will start to put it together again. If they hurry, most brain dead Americans won't know the difference.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. roger burnett

    Mr Powell has surprised me in a negative way. He stood for Conserative values, and has abandon them to gain favor with Obama Liberal aganda. For what ever reason he chose to defect, it will not be in his favor. He has lost a lot of clout with the Conserative base of both parties. The Obama Administration is already looking a lot like a bunch of Chicago Hoods. Just recently Colin Powell was mentioned as a nominee for the President of the United States for the Republican Party. He couldn't be nonimated for anything now. Colin Powell messed up big time.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Aspirdione

    I suppose we're suppose to listen to Al Gore and Al Franken and gas bags like Joe Biden, that lie, lie, lie. Rush is truthfull, but I don't buy all he says either. He doesn't cheat or lie to further his own personal agenda, like to politicians do. Personally I like Alan Keys, and voted for him. I would vote for Powell too.

    December 11, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Jim

    Totally agree and I'm a lifelong Republican. We will never again win the Presidency if Sean Hannity and Rush set our agenda. And Palin, good God Republicans, wake up!

    December 11, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Rilaly

    Here's why Powell is upset with Limbaugh, or at least this is why the conservative Republican (COUGH! COUGH!!) uses "high minded" concern for the Republican party.

    "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race," Limbaugh wrote. "OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with."

    "I was also unaware of [Powell's] dislike for John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia," Limbaugh noted, giving voice to Republican fears of losing a majority on the Supreme Court. "I guess he also regrets Reagan and Bush making him a four-star and secretary of state and appointing his son to head the FCC. Yes, let's hear it for transformational figures."

    Me thinks Colin Powell has an ax to grind with his former party. I don't think it has anything to do with "high minded" concern. I think it's petty, personal politics.

    December 11, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Powell,- you are an you think with your so-called views you ever had a chance in the democratic party? Rush Limbaugh's audience is far greater than yours will ever be. Good-luck in future, but never in the democratic party!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. MrPragmatic

    The GOP can ignore commentators like Powell and other pragmatic thinkers to its own peril. The GOP is on a fast track to becoming a regional party – appealing to the "bubba" states and Utah. If thats what they want, then they need to keep spokespeople like Hannity, Limbaugh, Palin and others in front of the microphone. Don't believe me? Take a look at the electoral shift map – it's entirely blue with the excepion of the deep south. Now, tell me the GOP isn't becoming a regional party. Objectively speaking, Powell is 100% correct when he states that the GOP must stop shouting at the world and start listening to minorities. There's really nothing to argue with in that statement – it's simple fact.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  13. wow

    The comments above surely make Powells point for him. We need a stronger GOP

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Scott K

    Yes Stu, leave Palin in Alaska. Good for the Democrats. The one person who is completely effective in rallying Conservatives. Powell wants me to hang my deepest held beliefs at the door, capitulate to people who are 180 degrees removed from everything I believe. Let people like John McCain take over, and run things till there's no distinction between the two parties.

    Sarah is the number one threat to Democrat held power, to the Socializing of this country. She is the best hope of reversing the madness that is the Democratic Party. And when the minorities wake up and realize that the Democrats have only been playing them for years. Then they'll realize that Conservatism makes a lot more sense than Socialistic Liberalism.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. TomV

    According to General Powell's autobiography, he was the product of affirmative action. I think he's just trying to pay it forward. Congratulations, General Powell, we now have elected the first affirmative action president, no offense. The media supported-liberal republican candidate lost. There is no doubt that a conservative candidate would have done far better against the socialist Obama, but still would have lost because of affirmative action. I am not a racist, just a realist. No white candidate would have beaten Obama, and Obama would not have been the democratic candidate if he wasn't black. Face it, it's a simple fact. Now can we all get off of the race-baiting and help our next president be the best he can be? I for one will try to think positive, supportive thoughts. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Bobbi

    Sorry, Mr. (Demo) are just like your black mentor, Obama with your thinking. Both of you, and the rest of your socialist liberal buddies have so much fear of someone like Rush because all of you know he is right on with facts about your Messiah. Now, like Obama, you are using the same tactics trying to destroy anyone who does not agree with your socialist, Marxist ideology. It is not going to work anymore, especially now that the real Obama is going to come forth, and hopefully, an impeachment will occur before the Messiah puts his hand on the Koran in January.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. Dan Sczepanski

    Bravo General Powell for having the guts to say what a lot of mainstream Republicans really think.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. Race

    i actually meant lesser instict.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  19. Thomas in Louisiana

    Although Powell is a good man, he clearly supported Obama because of race, The GOP must purge itself of Fake Republicans, Powell and McCain do NOT represent core conservative values, Bush has and is still trying to cross the aisle with democrats, where has that gotten him? I pray the Repub's in the Senate block the Auto Bailout, or may I say big union bailout. Why is it that of all the states asking to be bailed out are blue states with liberal policies and entitlement programs? What about the scandal already surrounding THE ONE? The GOP will make big gains in 2010 and will take the White House back in 2012, and trust me Powell will not have a seat at the table.

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  20. Texasgene

    Vic of New York
    Chuckie i am looking for a camera Schumer, Chris Dodd, manchild barney Frank, Chris Dodd, brought down our economy in two years...Get you facts straight, affirmative action will not get us out of this.
    We have a illegal Nobama, like his aunt, he will take care of the country like his cousin in Africa, and make land deals like his jailed freind, and a wife whio has hated America until Hussen...

    December 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  21. Mary

    I am so tired of people like Colin Powell telling us what to think and believe. I am so tired of people attacking Rush Limbaugh because it's the politically correct thing to do. Rush never appeals to 'lower instincts' and if Mr. Powell had ever listened to him, he'd know that. It takes brains to listen to Rush, along with a good sense of intelligent humor and the ability to laugh at oneself. Obviously Mr. Powell lacks these things, as do most Democrats (who take themselves FAR too seriously). Go Away, Mr. Powell. You've used up your moment of fame too many times and we're very, very tired of you and your hackneyed and trite thinking processes.

    December 11, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  22. Mac-101

    Hey Moderator, enjoy working for PRAVDA. You will see how well off you will be under your progressives running their New World Order. Sorry to wast my time typing a comment.

    December 11, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  23. TonyQ

    I personally would rather Republicans continue appealing only to an increasingly small minority of white, evangelical, undereducated southerners.

    December 11, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. Greg

    Colin Powell "still" considers himself to be a Republican? I find that almost laughable. Pro-affirmative action, Pro-abortion, Pro-Obama. Some Republican. "Republicans now need to see into the hearts and souls of minorities"? What kind of nonsense babbling is that? Sounds like new-age babble-speak to me. What does that even mean with regard to policy? "Republicans need to stop screaming at the world, screaming at Americans"? How so? Most of the angriest, most bellicose, most partisan idealogues I meet are liberals – instead of disagreeing with Bush, they HATE him. Instead of disagreeing with Christians, they HATE us. The average liberal in this country hates Bush more than Osama Bin Laden. If the Democrat Party is the answer to this country's problems, then the question must have been incredibly stupid. It is absolutelt incredible to me that people in this country re-elect again and again, idiots like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, etc – these people commit acts of horrendous misconduct and negligence such as the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiascos, while engaging in blatant conflicts of interest, costing the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and flushing the ecomnomy down the toilet, and they get re-elected anyway. And the media, so unbelievably dishonest and partisan and craven, gives them a free ride. Sick, Sick, Sick.

    December 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. m.smith

    Powell lost face when he let Libby take the blame fothe Plame affair, when he knew his friend Dick Armitage was the person who did the leaking, if there was a leak. Then he supports abortion, and he endorsed Obama. He is no Republican, he manipulates the system . He should thank Republican Presidents for the high offices he has held, instead he badmouths them. He should leave Rush Limbaugh alone. He could never hope to walk in Rush's shoes. Since he left office he has become a troublemaker, dividing rather than uniting the country. He is second only to Jimmy Carter.

    December 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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