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. D.R. Bond

    If you can't beat 'em join 'em? I don't think so!

    December 11, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. Daryl

    LMAO.. For those all upset with Powell.. He gets it.. something republicans haven't in years... fools

    December 11, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. Conservative Asian American

    I believe the Republican Party should stop pandering , as Mr. Colin Powell states, to a segment of the Party that still believes in racist White Supremacy. Many of my fellow Asian Americans feel that the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage are pandering to a group of people who want white affirmative action to continue. This is hypocritical to many other Asian Americans who value merit instead of connections through "accepted European cultural values" and the color of one's skin.

    December 11, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. Byron

    Powell couldn't be more wrong. McCain was the most moderate canidate Powell could ever ask for. He pandered to each demographic and what good did it do.

    Hey Powell, how about standing up for principles and values. Sellout

    December 11, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. MsChiTown

    Windu, you are soooo correct.
    Look at all the vitriol spewed here at Colin Powell. There was a PARADE of Republicans who supported Obama, but the "bitter" crowd only seems to get worked up by Powell. Gee, I wonder why? Naw I don't.

    December 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  6. Nick

    I thought maybe he was stupid. Then realized he is a genius. He wants liberals elected, and the best way is to have them run in both parties.

    December 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  7. Pepe Le Pew

    Rush will be talking about Powell and ya'll on his radio show tomorrow.

    December 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. Cecil B Home

    Without any doubt this is the weirdest string of political posts I've ever read. Everyone is angry, but cannot be specific about what should be done.

    Should we have one party with two Conferences? The Democrats and the Republican-Democrats? What the hell do you fools really want?

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  9. Ron

    Taking on Limbaugh this directly is illustrative...and wonderful. For it is certainly bizarre that a former rock DJ is the proxy spokesperson for the entire GOP party. It is far past the time that he should have been kicked to the curb....but I'll take it!

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  10. p1tey1

    Colin Powell is CORRECT!!! The majority of Americans are tired of the status quo. Its time for the Republicans to take their heads out of their butts and except that they need to CHANGE to appeal to a LARGER AUDIENCE. If not, they will disappear.

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. Tom

    This coming from a guy that voted for Obama and tells us what to think as Republicans? I like him just as much as the next guy, but his opinion is invalid after his endorsement.

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  12. ted

    Thanks BUSHED

    Great insight, I'm glad liberals use reasoning and logic rather than just hurl insults like those republicans. (just so you know I'm being sarcastic)

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  13. Bill Hair

    Censorship or advocating the denial of free speech is not the way to get your point across. Giving up on your principles if you feel that you are right, means that you have no convictions. I do appreciate General Powell for all he has done, but you have to be willing to stand on what you believe in, even if it means that you lose an election. We are an amazing country that is currently riding a more liberal tide. Fourteen years ago, the country went more conservative. Just because an election was lost, does not mean that the message is the cause. Sometimes it is just that the other side got the vote out a little better than your own.

    December 11, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  14. john in san diego

    Liberals are delusional. And the idea that the Republican party or conservative values are on their way out is obsurd.

    The democrats should have absolutely dominated the election and Obama should have won a landslide considering all the things in the democrats favor this election (media, unpopular Repub Pres, declining economy, and most of all, incredibly weak Repub candidate) yet, the election results were relatively close.

    One only has to look back to the days after Nixon to understand how quickly things change. After Nixon, the Republicans were as good as dead, yet 4 years of a weak democrate as president is all it took for the country to run back to the right...

    December 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  15. jrock5

    People, the Republicans did what Powell would have them do! McCain was a centrist, not even a conservative. He has centrist views on immigration, stem-cells, economy, health care, and the environment to name just a view issues.

    He refused to make certain attacks, and he did everything possible to appeal to the middle. And he lost. Romney would have been more conservative, more vocally conservative, and would have had a better chance because he knows the economy.

    Stop trying to blame the conservatives for the loss.

    December 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  16. A. D. Kelly

    I can't believe Colin Powell is the "darling" of the Business Education Speaking Cicuit.. He's transformed into an idiot.

    "Polarization" inferrs racism... There is nothing racial about liberty and less invasive government, it is the core reason the constitution was written (lest Mr. Powell forget his former oaths to defend it ).

    The only people with race on their mind are beltway poly-wonks like Mr. Powell and Democrats who keep their black constituents on the 20 and 21st century plantation of welfare, bitterness and clinging to the hollow and jingoistic communistic code words of "social and economic justice" (The practice of which gave us loans for the unfundable, the root cause of the recent banking crisis).

    It doesn't matter what racial constituency exists 50 years from now as long as a core belief in the principles of freedom and liberty still exist as the constitution has designed. Freedom and liberty for responsible citizenry is the real "social justice".

    December 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  17. Andrew from Parsippany

    God Bless You, Colin Powell!!!
    Keep telling it like it is!!!
    Somebody's gotta do it!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  18. Dorothy in NC

    I think Colin Powell is exactly on target. The Republican party lost because most people are sick of their self righteous biggots who try to make the rest of us feel inferior and unChristian if we don't believe exactly the way they do.
    We also do have to stop bullying people in other countries just because their beliefs are different and sticking our noses in everyone elses business while letting our own country fall apart. We have alot of nerve since looking back at our track record shows we mistreated Indians, Women, Blacks, gays, Muslums and the list goes on. We sure don't practice what we preach, do we?
    I congratulate Colin Powell for having the gutts to vote his heart and not the way he was expected to.

    December 11, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  19. SHAME

    The GOP is the great white way. When you choose Palin (the Baiter) as the face of any party, it is indictative of what you stand this what the GOP wants. Time for a makeover fast. I agree with Gen. Colin Powell and have the utmost respect. The world is changing and the GOP has not caught up.

    December 11, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  20. Will-Wolverine-GOP

    Jeez....having Ted:Canada (who obiviously laps up CBC The-Province-will-provide-all-you-need wonk like it is the 2nd coming of the Gospel) lecture Americans on what will work for our country is like having Ahmadinejad lecture the U.S. on how to properly treat Israel.....non sequitur! Keep to your own business up there – we do not care if you want to run your own country as a socialist economic satellite of the U.S. economy – but we will NOT have someone from a country of 25 million people with 90 % living of population living within 100 miles of our shared border and 50% of its economy tied to the U.S.'s fortunes admonishing us on which system is superior – shut your Tim Horton pie-hole until the Canadian economy becomes the one that drives the Western Hemisphere, OK??

    December 11, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  21. Jay N.

    The Palin Woman comes on as a regular "gal" and cutesy but in reality she is an attack dog for the right. She will not make the Republican Party more acceptable to the Country as a whole but rather make a fortune as a talk show host on Fox.

    December 11, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  22. Kevin, WI

    It is truly amazing to me to hear Dems call people like Rush and Sarah Palin hateful...Need we remind?? Who's party dumped hate on Gen. David Petraeus?? Who's party's supporters were pushing a theory that Sarah Palin's son Trig wasn't hers?? Give me a break when you Dems call people like Rush and Palin hateful....look in the mirror!!

    December 11, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  23. Jack, Ohio

    To debra WV – You are willing to compromise what you believe because of one man?

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  24. mekla

    powell is right. i've come across many repubican who have tried to shout me down to get their point across.
    in my opinion, most but not all repubicans are very closed minded and don't want to hear views that differ from theirs.
    by the way, i am not a democrat/liberal.

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. Billll

    Dear Mr./Gen./Mr. Secretary,

    You probably don't remember me but many years ago, I flew you. Smart guy, I thought. But I gotta say, maybe, just maybe
    More People Should Start Listening To Rush Limbaugh.

    J. W. E.

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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