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. unc2plo

    I CAN and will continue to listen to Rush, I WILL NOT listen to liberals. Even if they used to SAY they were Republicans.

    December 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  2. Bob

    The GOP is failing, not because of idealogy, but because the so-called repuplicans in office have failed to abide by that ideology.
    PS: Stop the bailouts...all of them. As any good granola-cruncher will tell you, "Don't Feed The Bears". Same principle.

    December 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. joe jones

    Is he joking? Do people really take Rush Limbaugh seriously? Rush Limbaugh has a high school degree only. He has just enough kowledge to be dangerous. Taking Rush LImbaugh seriously would be the political equivelent of taking a religous cult leader seriously.

    December 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  4. Sam

    Generals have a bad habit of telling people what the proper attitude is. He's retired. BTW, all the years he accepted high government positions, he never said he didn't agree with the administration. He never said a disagreeable word in private or public. I think Obama will wonder if a yes man is the kind of representative he needs. And on the fairness of it all-I have listened to NPR since it started, they are definitely a publicly funded left-wing talk radio show.

    December 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. Totoro

    I'm not a Republican, both parties get too full of themselves and silly for me. One thing I do know though is that Limbaugh makes more sense than Obama does. Obama came out of Chicago and is now doing his best "I am shocked, sir, shocked and appalled" act now that the Governor, who he wholeheartedly supported and campaigned for, is busted... so superficial, and people will get fed up. Not by the slime, necessarily, but by Carter-esque economic woes and the cold war part two. (and I believe that we are seeing the beginnings of both!)

    Now is the time to cut the bull about all of the bailouts, quit trying to shove "the new religion" down all of our throats and get real please.

    The party that has good solid pragmatic solutions to saving Social Security (sorry Pubbies, I've paid into it since I was 16) and for delivering our children from unsafe schools and intellectual poppycock, that gets rid of the egos, waste, and gobbledegook in government and who instills some sense of social discipline and order will be the party that I vote for.

    And no, Mr. Powell, I resent your effort to divide us along racial lines, many of us are mixed race and will never be black/hispanic/asian/indian enough so cut the bull and lets talk about things we can all get behind!

    December 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. John

    Republicans, you've become irrelevant. Deal with it for the next four years. You'll get another shot then, to prove your incompetence.

    December 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. random

    When did Colin start using the royal 'we'?

    December 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Mia

    Powell is just jealous that nobody ever listens to him.

    So like a baby he just wants him to shut up.

    What a man.

    December 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. Jeff Allen

    This smacks of opportunism. I would have had more respect for him if he had come out with these criticisms before the changing of the guard. The level of generalization and anti-Republican diatribe in this blog is appalling. If you truly believe what you are writing, you are no better than they are. It could easily be said that the Dems are the party of hate, because there has been a lot of examples of this over the last 8 years. But the Dems are not any more the party of hate than the Repubs are. C-can’t we all get along….

    December 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. Susan

    Who trusts Colin Powell any more? He isn't the wise person he wants us to think he is. There are many minorities who have conservative values. To say that the sky is falling for the GOP just because they lost an election – a lot of which had to do with the Iraq war for which Colin Powell played a large part – is absurd.
    I think that Obama's win was due in large part to the fact that the blacks united to support him. If not for that, Hillary or McCain would have won.

    December 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Sour grape Republicans throwing Powell under the bus.

    Truth hurts eh?

    They loved him just a few months ago!

    Oh well, they'll always have Joe Plumber's Butt.

    December 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. Funkmaster Chris

    Ha ha! Colin Powell is a joke. His boy B.O. is scrambling to spray air freshener at the stink generated by the corrupt Chicago political sphincter that crapped him out, and Powell's worried about Rush? What a clueless moron.

    December 11, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. 2 War Vet

    I have lost all respect for Powell. When he turned I could only envision him as a combatant in VietNam who "go over for a bigger bowl of rice" if he was in a tight situation or would abandon his fellow soldiers in the nearby foxholes if he thought he would get a better deal from the enemy. He was and always has been the "token" given to be a politically correct quota number to satisfy the affirmative action demand.

    December 11, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. Koko

    Those who are Limbaugh fans should ask him about the boil on his rear that got him out of serving his Country. What burns me up about the "Super Patriot" Republicans out there is that most have not served and hide behind the flag.
    The days of devisiveness are over – Best you also get over it!

    One who served 21 years.

    December 11, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  15. Lee

    Maybe Colin Powell would be best served if he became an AMERICAN and dropped the hyphen. If his allegiance is to Africa why doesn't he go live there?

    December 11, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  16. Susan

    I don't think 52% for Obama to 48% of the population indicates that the GOP has a "huge" problem.

    December 11, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  17. kanimal

    Let's see, can anyone name an inexperienced white liberal that Gen. Powell has endorsed?

    December 11, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. L

    The RINO's (Republicans In Name Only), like Powell, ARE the problem. What we Republicans need is true conservatives. John McCain is a RINO and he only got the nomination because the conservative candidates, who got the majority of the votes if you add up all their votes, split up the conservative Republican primary vote.

    December 11, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. Common Sense Conservative

    As a conscientious conservative, I have to say Powell's right. Too many GOPers have been charmed by poisonous talk from puffed up cobras like Rush. If more conservatives – especially the leadership – could get over themselves and listen as well as talk, there would be no problem forming a center-right majority in the US in a few years, crossing gender, racial, ethnic, and regional barriers. Out with the Bush, in with the new!

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. Pa whitey

    BUSHED. You should watch fox news there is alot that CNN leaves out.

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  21. jeff

    What goes around, comes around. The Dems will do well until they fall victim to hubris just like the Republicans have. Then, just like the Republicans they will self destruct and the cycle will begin anew.

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  22. Mark Shea

    Blah, Blah, Blah. He was mediocre in President George H.W. Bush's Administration; a dud as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman during his brief stint in the Clinton Administration; and a failure in President George W. Bush's Administration. He was against gays in the military and helping the Bosnian Muslims. Long resume, not much achievement. Ask Madeline Albright about him.

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. 2indulgent

    Rush Limbaugh seems to be a hero to many on this comment board. Unbelievable. Limbaugh is unbearable to listen to. Probably for the same reason all 3 of his marriages failed, and the same reason he became a drug addict while remaining a stalwart proponent of an insane and liberty threatening drug war. but I digress. Don't worry, the most right wing 10% of America is well represented here.

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. andtherepublic

    Should republicans listen to you Colin, after you endorsed a democrat for president? What was that about any way? Pandering for a job in the new administration?

    December 11, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  25. Conservative

    I don't need Rush Limbaugh or anyone else to tell me that Colin Powell (a sometimes Republican of personal convenience) supported the first affirmative-action, anti-American, and socialist President who is out to destroy the country. Barack Obama is a thin-skinned crybaby who can't take criticism and always plays the victim accusing others of racism against his 50% African and black heritage. He, in fact, is a racist himself ashamed of his 50% American and white heritage blaming them both for all the problems in the world. November 4, 2008 was the first day in my life that I was not proud of my country.

    December 11, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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