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. Libertarian Bill

    Gen Powell is dead on. Reading all the wingnuts posting up confirms what intelligent libertarian leaning conservatives have known for years:
    The Christian whacks have taken over and a new party will rise from the ashes to replace the republicans.
    Good. I don't know how much more Republican and Democrat socialism for big biz we can take.

    December 11, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. bob

    Yeah, we should not listen to Rush, just the liberal media and everything will be fine.....General Powell turned out to be a jerk.

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. chute53

    The General is right on target.

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. MrCobaltblue

    Well..... Once again Colin Powell confirms the fact that his loyalties and convictions lie no deeper than himself. Colin Powell has ALWAYS been about what will benefit Colin Powell. The man may be a "Republican" but he is NOT a Conservative in any shape of the word. There is a battle going on for the SOUL of the Republican party right now and if RINO's like Powell, Cristie T. Whitman, and others become the voice of the party – I will no longer be able to call myself a Republican.

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Conservative N' Proud

    Uhhh... Colin? Why don't you and Arnie just switch to your rightful party – Democrat – instead of lecturing conservatives on how they should abandon their principles. The only people who are sreaming are the ones who recognize the fact that the country has been hijacked by the left and they've done so with the help of turncoat RINO's like yourself.

    I think Reagan proved pretty convincingly that true conservatism sells and it is the only political ideology which is truly color-blind. When you have an election where your only choices are a Marxist leaning Democrat and a Democrat leaning Republican, there's nothing left to do BUT scream!

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. Marilyn Potts

    What else would you expect from a traitor who drives Volvos?

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. me

    I believe Thomas Jefferson was more than correct when he stated that the tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of tyrants and patriots .... my father was a career military man and my FIL was a combat pilot in WWII .... I deem mr. powell in the lightest regard and will shed my blood to prevemt his ilk from spreading upon the legacy of my blood

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  8. mapson

    Welcome the new face of the Democrat-lite party.

    December 11, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  9. Sian

    Colin Powell continues to have my utmost respect for his character, his ethics, and his principles. Fortunately, I don't look to Fox News or other non-researched resources to base that opinion on.

    As for his comments on Rush Limbaugh, I applaud him and anyone else who calls Limbaugh out for what he is. Though he didn't go quite as far as I would have.... to me, Limbaugh is nothing but a pathetic joke who isn't even smart enough to know what a joke he is. Fortunately, there are more people who realize that than don't, and for that there is something to be thankful for.

    December 11, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  10. Texasgene

    And I Thank CNN for being balanced,

    December 11, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Wayne

    Am I the only one who understands that if you don't like what Rush is saying to simply TURN the radio OFF?? Rush doesn't speak FOR me anymore than Al Franken speaks FOR me. THEY state their opinion. I CHOSE to accept it or reject it. If you base on who you vote for because a voice on the radio tells you the country a favor and tear up your voter card and sit the elections out. Do your home work...READ AND LEARN where they stand and for what. Then inspite of yourself try and make an INTELLIGENT choice and vote for who you think is the best person....NOT what some voice on the radio tells you.

    December 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    Goodness, sounds like home sweet home... arguments.. arguments all day all night... and somehow we're all still in the same house. Just enjoy who you are and what you stand for. Just be true to yourself. If you like to stay with the elephants, keep eating roasted peanuts. If you need change, swing over to the donkeys, they'll feed you carrots. Life is short. Rignt now, to everyone, I say be quiet and promote 'UNITY' in disunity, otherwise, just hand over America to the Russians.

    December 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  13. Christina

    I love how Powell threw his party under the bus when it no longer benefited his career. Funny, the Republican party held the same values when he served under George Bush as it does now. Yet, he waited to the last couple of weeks of the election to stab his own "friend" McCain in the back to sing the praises of Obama. Powell turned his back on his community throughout his career and now trying to salvage his image by turning his back on the party that made him who he is today. Powell is the ultimate hypocrite and self-serving opportunist. Powell now lacks credibility on both sides of the political fence

    December 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  14. Joe

    It's time for a 3rd party. A truly conservative party that sticks to true conservative values. If Colin Powell identifies with the Republican Party, then it has lost me. I want a party that stands on principle and doesn't try to out-liberal the liberals as John McCain tried to do.

    December 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. James

    It is funny to hear all the Republicans frothing over Powell. The truth hurts. Like Powell I thought that the Republicans have gone off the deep end. Unlike Powell I have officially switched parties. Oh and to all my old Republican homies: Keep bad mouthing the competition with your sophomoric comments, it really helps your argument.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. bill for barack

    Do we really want or even need a Republican party in the United States ?
    Not really.
    It's time to disband the GOP and replace it with something more responsive to the needs and concerns of the American people.
    Even Lincoln didn't run as a Republican for his second term.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. Ernie

    Obama should care about his health and second hand smoke around his daughters and quit smoking. You folks are talking about Bush and his habits but at least he is trying.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. Canada boy

    It is great reading how smart yall are down south.....the RNC is so corrupted with stupid it is a wonder you got the votes you did. Sara future.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  19. Cereskid

    This country's values (and GOP values) have for some time been center-right (excluding San Francisco and New York City). That is limited government, low taxes, individual rights with corresponding accountability, individual freedom (including economic), and love of our country and our culture.
    Barak knows this and will govern from the center protect his job for 2012. I am not sure what Powell meant by 'our lessor instincts and our better instincts'. I AM sure he intentionally did not elaborate on this. Rush is guilty only in shouting to America that we are losing the aforementioned conservative values and are on our way to becoming a Denmark-like nation.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  20. Powell is Right!

    Whether conservatives want to accept it or not, Powell is right. I voted Republican in the last two elections, but this time I voted for Barack. I do not consider myself a Democrat..but the Republican party really needs to do some soul searching and figure something out, quick. They did not speak to the Americans of the 21st century. America has changed and is becoming a more "diverse" culture. We may not all be of the same race, but we have values, we are patriotic, and all put our country first!

    Hannity and Rush only creates hate and division, and feeds the sick mind who choose to listen to them.

    I support Barack our new President-Elect. I believe he is the right person at the right time for our ever changing country.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. Nicky

    I have never heard Powell "out" himself as a Republican. I find this part of the story difficult to believe.

    December 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Bump

    Mr. Powell, I am suprized to learn that you don't know how to operate a radio. If you don't want to listen ,the radio has this thing called an "ON and Off" switch. Try it!

    December 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. John

    What I fear for the Republicans is that one day the base will wake up and see what pawns they have become. The Republican party has always been the party of the rich. They are the masters at getting people to go along with agendas that only benefit the rich. As for the base, let them eat ideology. It is cheap.

    December 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. FreeNLovIt

    To PA

    Please explain these lists to us all:

    This is just a partial list of Bush scandals. Halliburton's Corruption; Iraq's Decline; Abu Ghraib Prison Torture; CIA Pre-9/11 Intelligence; Failures; HHS Deceptive Ad Campaign; HHS Scully Scandal; Government-wide Accounting; Problems; Sex Education Misinformation; CAPPS II Failures; Real Costs of the Iraq War; US Attorney Firings; Walter Reed Army Hospital Neglect; Mishandling North Korea nuclear issue; Outing a CIA Agent; Lying to the American People; Hurrican Katrina; Warrantless wiretapping; Selling government to K Street lobbyists; Duke Cunningham, a corrupt politician steered money towards office supplies for Cheney; And there's much, much more.

    I'm sure to all of this you lying scandalous repugs would just say (in the words of your hero) "So"?

    December 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. Chris in Va.


    Thank you for proving my point that Republicans are incapable of independent thought and need Rush to tell them how to think.

    December 11, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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