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. Kim, Ohio

    After this election I am now an independent, I used to be a democrat. I am definitely in the middle. There is no way I can support the extreme left. I agree more with the right in terms of moral issues and tax cuts. But I am a minorty and I do not feel the GOP is diverse enough. I do beleive that if they do not stop being the white only party, they will die. I voted for Obama because I feel like he identifies more with the majority of Americans.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  2. Paul

    I feel sorry for the Repubs on this board.....empty vessels with nothing left to hold onto!

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  3. Robert in Atlanta

    Powell is correct, but he also forgot to mention the likes of Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Bill O'Really? and Neal Boortz. They are all hate mongers and would rather see the country go under than see Obama and the democrats do something positive and good for the country and the world.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  4. Roger Fishwife

    I would like to add: I would rather be a principled loser, than an unprincipled winner.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  5. Johnny B. Truthful

    You can ALWAYS tell who has actually ever listened to Rush - and who (including Colin Powell) has not. Sheesh, c'mon people! Tune in and know what you're talking about before you become exactly what you demonize others for ostensibly being. I personally have not heard Rush sounding angry, racist or "spewing venom" .. but you can sure find that in spades in many of the posts right here on this blog. Twinkle, twinkle, little star - what you say is what you are.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. "John Wayne"

    Excuse me General but I don't know what the H*ll you're talking about.
    We have an educational system in thic country. Everybody has the oppertunity and duty to get an education. Then they can go out into the world and give it a go.

    Was it the Republicians that gave us the Housing Crunch?
    Was it the Republicians that put General Motors on the Ropes? Minoritys have the same oppertunities as well as everyone else. If they can't figure that out by now maybe they need to go back to school.

    The Government or the Presidend doesn't owe me or them any special favors. If we continue to go down this primrose path of government needs to fix this and government needs to fix that a depression is a sure thing, in fact it may be already too late to head it off. If you (they) want a life they will have to go get it themselves.

    December 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. Blue State Bob

    It will be a great day when no one mentions Rush Limbaugh in a news story. He doesn't deserve the attention.

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  8. Mrs. P

    I wish all Americans would listen to Rush Limbaugh; then they would show some sense. Colin Powel has turned out to be a major disappointment.

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. Marjorie Handy

    I'd like to know exactly what Rush Limbaugh said that was wrong. I've never heard that he lied. He hasn't been sued. I've never heard Colin
    Powell say anything definitive.

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. Jerry Kurl

    The GOP is so over. Who cares what they say anymore? They did all the work digging their own political grave. You don't nominate a Sarah Palin (who can barely pick out the lower 48 on a map) when you've had 8 years of Bush the Dummy. You betcha!

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    To PanderingPowell,

    It doesnt matter what the color of your skin is, people want 'accountability'. It's the only way for stability and to secure America's future.

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. Rachel Hull

    Here, here! I, too, am a Republican who happily voted for Mr. Obama. I couldn't agree more that we have to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. We must surround ourselves with a higher, more cerebral discourse. Mr. Limbaugh has stirred contention for too long. Even when he speaks the truth it brings discord. Debate and discussion is healthy, but discord causes strife for everyone. We are TIRED of it!

    December 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. irene

    Thank you Colin Powell for your voice of reason. The GOP has got to learn to stop shoving their religion down everybody's throat. They also need to learn that they are not the moral authority on anything. They have made liberalism a dirty word and it is finally back-firing on them. Maybe we will pay more taxes with the Democrats, which I will gladly do if needed to protect my civil liberties from takeover by the GOP.

    December 11, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  14. lucy

    I agree with him, with one exception. If being conservative accentuate a person's stupidity, then it becomes a problem. I consider being unfair, making false insinuation, claiming to be closer to God than others, or worse claiming to be God, as being stupid.

    December 11, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. Brian

    Conservatism will always be in two different camps.....

    Social Conservatism = Bigger government which leads to increased government spending

    Ficsal Conservative = Keeping government out of our lives so people have FREEDOM to live how they want (as long as it doesn't harmfully affect anyone else)

    E.g. Gay marriage.... why not?

    (If you answered cause god said so.... that is the same rational terrorists use to blow up little kids)

    December 11, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. v

    what a loser...colin is a liberal

    December 11, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. The Right One

    General Powell is right. It's that simple. You fools keep on listening to Rush, you'll burn your party to the ground. Buy hey, you'll be sooooo RIGHT, wontcha? As you continue to lose and fail repeatedly at electoral contests outside the uneducated South and tumbleweed states, will something eventually sink in? Come to the REAL real America - where other people live and have rational discussions.

    It'll take a few more smacks in the face before you'll get it, i'm certain.

    December 11, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  18. john

    Yeah, Colin, the Republican party should abandon principle and morals like the democrats to win votes. Oh yeah, and Colin only voted for Obama because he's black. Who was the last liberal democrat Powell endorsed for president? Whatever happened to "not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Clearly that is what Colin Powell based his vote for president. Is that not also racial.

    December 11, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  19. P. Allen

    I always thought that the opinions expressed by Conservatives were somewhat cliché and 'showcased' as some sort of media spotlight.

    But unfortunately, apparently, there is an authentic mind-set
    that values hate, immorality, violence, greed, lies, corruption
    and the vulgar side of the potential of the human race.

    It seems my understanding of Conservatives was correct – you are
    terrible, grotesque, evil examples of the human race.

    The moral majority is neither and the Conservative Right is wrong.
    Your ideology, policies, efforts and performance have all been thoroughly proven as failures from every aspect of the election and the economic and political realm.

    Admit it, be respectful and give someone else a try.

    December 11, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  20. Gift of the Maji

    "HouseDiva December 11th, 2008 6:17 pm ET

    Powel knows that the republican party has been reduced to angry white men, stepford wives, religious nutcases, white supremist, gun toting war mongers, elitist fatcats, and uneducated rednecks…..basically the shame of America."

    Hey Diva,

    First, it's Powell with 2 l's, Einstein. Now...

    So, Repubs are the bottom-feeders, eh?

    *Tell that to WV Senator Robert Byrd. He's the ONLY man in the Senate with a KKK background... and he's in your DEMOCRAT party.

    You might want read the news... the DEMOCRAT governor of IL is really messing things up for your messiah.

    Elitist fatcats: you mean like Kerry, Kennedy? those DEMOCRAT fatcats? (they married/inherited their wealth... never earned a penny!)

    Uneducated rednecks? You mean like DEMOCRAT Rep. Jefferson from LA? With 90K of CASH in his frig? How dumb can you be?

    the shame of America... you mean like Al Gore, who gave only .02% if his net income to charity in 2000 (and think of his riches after inventing the internet!), or Joe Biden, who just last year barely did better? Or is it more like Clinton who "did not have sex with that woman...." or is it like Barney Frank, whose failed FNMA oversight led to your 401K dropping by 75%. Is that the shame you're referring to?

    You see, being Republican means accepting responsiblity for yourself, and serving the needs of your community YOURSELF.
    I gave nearly $5K.+ to charity last year, along with countless hours of service. In exchange for that commitment, I expect the feckless Fed. Gov't to get out of my life and just leave me alone. Yes, that means less taxes, but not just that. I respect my fellow Americans enough to expect the vast majority of them to carry their own water.

    Liberals simply want a world their saviors are heroic and generous... just not with their own money. they want government solutions... from the same gov't that has so miserbly failed them. they want a world where many things are illegal... but nothing is "wrong".
    And they want a world where diversity is celebrated- unless it means hearing a conservative statement. And they believe no military engagement = peace.

    It's truly laughable.

    December 11, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. Comment Awaiting Moderation?

    Whatever....we got our man going in the White House come Jan 20. So you conservatives got 8 years to get it together. Your party is coming apart at the seams. If you are planning on putting Palin on the list, then it's going to be much, much longer!!

    December 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  22. scott

    Gen. Powell will forever be known as an oppurtunist with out principle. He is not a Republican, so who cares about his veiws on our Party. He is a Joke.

    December 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  23. Sanity

    How can anyone listen to Limbaugh and Hannity? If repubs want to remain relevant, they need to ditch the hatemongers and stop with the "everyone that doesn't agree with us is an idiot" mentality.

    Otherwise, get used to losing elections.

    December 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. Steve

    Colin doesn't want to admit that the real conservative candidates win real elections – not the mamby-pamby psedo-conservatives like himself. So according to Colin, political parties should alter their messages based on their audience's skin color or ethnicity – no thanks!

    December 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  25. lucy

    I also think that Limbaugh is a pompous, loud-mouth noise generator.

    December 11, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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