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. Throw in the towel, Powell

    You can leave now. Buh Bye....
    We no longer want you in the republican party. You are a fraud and just a demo in disguise. Finally people are waking up to your deception and realizing that they have been duped by your false claims of conservatism.

    You have disgraced yourself and exposed to everyone your liberal leanings by endorsing BO because of his skin color; therefore, you have no right to demand that ANYONE look for "what is in the "hearts and minds" of African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters ". We already know what is in your mind-You are a product of affirmative action and want the conservatives to support affirmative action and all of it's detrimental effects on society. YOU are the one who sees everyone by their race. That's probably why you get along so well with the democrats and those who are salivating over you on this blog. That's how libs characterize people, by race.


    Mark Levin-The Great One!

    December 11, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. terri

    Talk about pandering! How dare Powell say what he has said! Yep, Republicans believe in conservatism. But for him to think that the party has to pander to other ethnicities is just ludicrious.

    Thanks to the Dems, racism will remain alive, well, and thriving for the next 4 yrs..

    Dems are the root cause of today's issues... and people need to know that CONGRESS makes the laws and is in control of the country, NOT the president.

    When will people wake up?

    December 11, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. WInston Smith

    You mean listen to someone like YOU? So Powell is running for president. Rush is the most powerful conservative in the US.

    December 11, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  4. Dave

    LOL, 'polarization' backfired in election, but not for the dems, get your head out Powell! The Obama campaign was just as dirty if not more than McCain's campaign...

    Just ask the Clinton's about the race card.

    December 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  5. rich

    The GOP should first stop shouting at the American people. Until they become civil, they will not return to the majority. The American voters will not accept being lectured by a bunch of rich, white hypocrits who took us to war and dismantled the economy.

    December 11, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. kh

    Screw Powell, once a kitty cat, always a kitty cat the man is useless RINO, always has been always will be. Besides the man thinks for some reason he's relevant in the part, he's not, he a reject.

    December 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    To PanderingPowell

    Remember, African-American, Asians and Hispanics stood for marriage and helped CA with Prop 8. Freedom starts with knowing what is good for the country in the long run. Reckless behaviours shouldnt be tolerated.

    December 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  8. palinin2012

    the biggest lie ever told has been told by the democrats in this country.....they purposely trashed a thriving economy to gain power......republicans, conservatives, clear thinking people who know a crook when they see one (57 million strong) are more than aware of this......the lieing media betrayed this country and they shall stand in judgement before the american people as shall those in congress and the Soros's and Buffets of this country...let Obama have his way and it will be the second coming of Jimmy Carter,.....the 2012 election will be a greater landslide than the Reagan victory of 1980...and there shall be hell to pay for those liberals who participated in the trashing of the US economy.....,.,Sarah Palin will be the one to lead this nation when the pendulum swings back tyo the right......

    December 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. john douglas

    I would rather get my marching orders from Rush that powell. At least Rush is still loyal to the GOP. powell became a turncoat. He might as well join the Dems. We don't need him in our party. See Ya.

    December 11, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  10. easy everyone

    Colin Powell is entitled to his opinion, as are all of us. That is what makes America great - not the right wing only, nor the left wing only.

    December 11, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  11. P. Allen

    A B S O L U T E L Y C O R R E C T.
    The future in this nation could be so
    amazing, something so powerful and
    prosperous and at the same time
    understanding and intelligent. Those
    who'd dispute his opinion are dinosaurs.
    (Even if you don't believe in them.)

    December 11, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  12. DaveT

    Hahahaha, we lost because we nominated a silly moderate so he is advocating we become more like Democrats? Then explain how Reagan won two landslides Mr. Powell?

    Were either a nation of Free people working towards our own self interests, what built this nation was built on, or were a nation of sheep who will settle for mediocrity in exchange for security. Which is it? One of you libs, explain to me how Obama, the democrats and socialist policies make me free? Explain how Powell makes me more free?

    Oh I forgot, liberals have no concept of freedom. Freedom means the right to fail.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  13. El Mono

    I was a Republican for 20 years and finally left exactly because of (1) the wedge politics Powell describes, (2) the dominance of the unthinking, knee jerk false conservativism of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, etc, and (3) the last straw, the nomination of a patently unfit candidate for the sole purpose of appealing to the nutjob wing of the party. This last one was particularly disappointing because I really thought McCain would have been a way out for the party, and he just knuckled under. And lost. The Republicans no longer stand for the kind of smart policies and thoughtful approach that made it the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan. It's a shadow of its former self that uses fear tactics and wedge politics to garner votes by appealing to the worst in our natures. All that said, I still can't bring myself to be a Republican, and so am content being an Independent, and thinking for myself. Powell is right, and the Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs if they insist on returning to the "bedrock values" the far right keep trying to foist on an unwilling majority.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Earl in FL

    The problem for the GOP is how to "sell" blacks, Hispanics, Asians and the young (also the urban and the educated and most of suburbia - I could go on) on the GOP "brand" when that brand is inherently intolerant of most of these very same groups - extremely difficult to impossible.

    The GOP is largely addicted to the "conservative" 1980's but the country has moved well beyond that to the point where we want and the times demand a competent government with intelligent people in charge - i.e., a total reversal from Bushism and anyone likely to be nominated after him by the party activists. The GOP will have to examine its core beliefs - and reject many to most of them - again extremely unlikely given the emotional response to the Palin/Huckabee wing of the party.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Claire

    Wow! I check cnn every day and this is the first time the bloggers make some since and aren't just socialist obama-supporters. Because the Republican Party supports morality it doesn't mean they are narrow minded. It's the liberal party who corrupts the country. How can a country stand when it wages war against the most innocent and wants to federally fund it by calling it "choice." I wouldn't want someone who can't decide what party to support representing me. So the traitor can go to the democrats. anyway he's probably racist to whites. it was Clinton, the impeached shining star of the democrats who caused the mortgage crisis that started this recession. he took restrictions off fanny and freddie, forcing the banks to give loans to the inelligible so we could have more"homeowners." well that worked out great! and then democratic senators and Obama lobbied in fannie and freddie to keep the restriction off. Obama recieved $150 million from the not bankrupt corporation. when we do come out of this recession it won't be because obama. he'll give us the opportunity to repeat the cycle all over again be givng handouts to people that can't afford it.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  16. pH

    I am a Progressive and a Democrat. I believe in love and inclusiveness. Unlike me and my fellow Democrats, all Republicans all are divisive and full of hatred! I hate them all and until they think just like me they should be ostracized!! Umm… wait a minute… I’m not being a consistent, am I?

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. Dan

    Lesser instincts? Better instincts? General Powell, please provide some specificity, lest you be confused with the President-elect, who also avoids specificity. God bless America. May He save us from ourselves.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. Christopher

    The foundation that "El Rushbo" has built his career on is one of division and paranoia.

    The "Maha-Rushie" has made a very comfortable living pointing an angry finger to those who have a different point of view on politics, religion and society and sometimes overtly, but usually with not so subtle innuendo, he'll tell you that they are stupid, ignorant and perhaps traitors.

    Perhaps the "Loveable Little Ball Of Fluff" ought to put down the Oxycotin for a minute, quit barking at the moon and turn his considerable "Excellence In Broadcasting" skills to hosting a game show.


    A Former Resident Of Rio Linda

    p.s. I wrote this with half my brain tied behind my back just so you "dittoheads" could understand it.

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  19. Gus Hoefling

    Colin–You have had your day–As a true American feel you screwed it up..
    Asa for" Rush Limbaugh" his k"SPIEL"is a hell of a lot better and makes more sense than Pelosi-Reid-Dodd- and That whatever he is "Barney Franks" They are quite simply put "Thieves" in one opinion (mine and most of the people In know) Used to believe you were a great man..Go look in the mirror and see if you like what is there...
    Gus Hoefling

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  20. Republicans will always rule

    Another hero of mine fallen to the liberal left.

    Bush, Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh, they are the true patriots that work tirelessly to spread the gospel of american greatness at home and abroad.

    Long live the republican party and my God save us from the next 4 years.

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  21. SUT-Florida

    Since 2001, General Powell has shown that he does not have the will or the skill be an effective civilian leader in government.

    So, who cares what he thinks?

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. roblrich

    This election was a farse, not a transformation. Once the idiots and morons that voted for Obama realize what he is, the GOP will own the White House for another two decades just as they did after the Jimmy Carter fiasco.

    Rush Limbaugh would have to tie half his brain behind his back for Colin Powell to be able to look half way intelligent in Rush's presence.

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. David

    Can we continue to listen to Rush LImbaugh?

    Colin, can we continue to listen to you?

    Perhaps we can listen to both and make a judgement as to who is deluding themselves.

    There are plenty of banshee voices and excesses on both sides of the political spectrum.

    I would venture to say, Colin does not listen to Rush and that aside from a few select excerpts, does not really know what Rush is saying.

    December 11, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. Bev

    What a moron he has become. He was actually a fairly decent man at one time but he has become a democratic idiot. Such a waste.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. JT

    What kind of "moderator" lets 'Connie" and racist scum haters like her post on here? what do you have to say to get screened out? Anyway Powell is right, and thankfully, the haters represented here will never listen. GO RUSH!

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56