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. bigmoemiami

    Powell is absolutely correct, sir!!! Everything that is wrong with Rush LImbaugh is what is wrong with the Republican party. Rush has catered to right wing racist Republicans mostly in the South and has succeeded in rallying the goobers as political cattle for Republican electoral victory. It worked in the past but will no longer succeed because many of our fine white Southern citizens have seen through Limbaugh and the Republican right's cynical game of divide and conquer and want to do what is right by America.

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  2. Roxanne

    Wow! I'm readin g all these comments by "Republicans" and I feel like I'm reading a bunch of one dimensional morons. No wonder educated people voted for Obama. Republicans, just like Rush Limb. all seem to be angry people who are just interested in their narrow minded views. A good representation of why the world hates Americans...(I'll write it even if Republicans don't care since they think their way is the only way) and of why Obama is a breath of fresh air. Republicans should read up, get some common sense and get some emotional I.Q. God help them!

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. Bern Cranston

    Colin Powell is NOT a Republican. But is is thanks to Republicans that he is where he is.

    Based on his statements it's clear he does NOT listen to Rush Limbaugh.

    The GOP lost the election because it WASN'T conservative enough!

    December 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  4. Art

    Thank God for Rush. Its so easy to tell who has listened to Rush and who has not. To call him someone who appeals to our lesser instincts clearly shows that Powell has no clue. I have listened to Rush forr years, I may disagree now and then, but one thing is certain Rush is as uplifting a person that ever lived. Its just the libs hate the light to shine on them and expose their failed ideas. A republican moderate lost this election not Rush and conservatives.

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

    Republicans should stop listening to POWELL and start being actual CONSERVATIVES.

    December 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  6. Med Student

    If compromising your beliefs and pandering to other segments of the population equates with being trying to be more inclusive...then please don't. As a gay, black male, I'd rather know up-front who, and how many, hate so I can accurately predict whether I should move to Canada – which, by the way, has a surplus despite socialism and universal healthcare, has not been destroyed by fire and brimstone despite gay marriage, and is leading the U.S. in most social markers.

    December 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. Will Kane

    This is the man who turned on people who had trusted him and this says more about his character, but the fact that he wants us to believe he voted for Nobama for any reason other than race shows what he thinks of people on a whole. How many other liberals has he ever supported?

    This is also the man who would have never finished his military career due to an incident he had years ago, but due to afirmative action and the times he got away with it.

    December 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. Wally

    Colin, why don't you start your own political party? You could call it the Moron Party and become the little party that couldn't.

    Or, you could just admit that you are really a DemonicRat at heart.

    December 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  9. Charlie in Maine

    Like my comment the GOP is awaiting moderation. Thank you General Powell for trying to give them that. If if doesn't work out though I would be proud to have you join my party.

    December 11, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Change

    Powell is trying to cover up the fact that the only reason he voted for Obama was because he is an African American.

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

    "Limp-baugh" is a gross fat pig who needs viagra to get it up.

    December 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Gerald aka G-Man

    Listen Colin Powell did the right thing when he left the 2nd Bush administration after the Iraqi invasion in '03.
    Bush and Cheney are just serving a new world order platform for a view of their friends involved and that is what hurt the GOP in '08.
    Im an independent voter and i voted Obama;
    The GOP has been token over by the Southern Stragedy that started under Nixon and look what the US is at right now?
    Powell is right the GOP has to reach out to other people and not just cattor to just Whites.
    Thats whats the GOP has done the last 30 yrs.

    December 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. C. Powell

    Oh, did I mention I voted for Obama because he is black?

    December 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Jenny from IN

    Pa Whitey:

    "One Nation Under God" was added in 1954 to pander to Americans fears over using the A-bomb.

    Our nation was clearly founded on the principle of separation of church and state.

    Why? The Puritans who came over here were scared of letting Catholicism rule their lives, so when they founded the US they made it a secular nation.

    Oh, and the Bible lies.

    Get an education.

    December 11, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  15. Ben

    psssstt -- don't tell anyone that Colin Powell's son is head of the FCC.

    Good bye Rush. It looks like the Gestapo is coming to take away your mic

    December 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. Ron J

    If it walks like a Democrat and quacks like a Democrat...

    December 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Rae

    He's right. But the people speaking for the party at this time still don't get it. If no one speaks out, forcefully, that it is time to work together, I will figure they are just obstructionist. I am done with that.

    December 11, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  18. Rob

    deborah, WV,

    I don't believe you. I don't believe you are pro-life. IF you truely are then you wouldn't COULDN'T vote for a man that voted against protecting babies that are already born!

    I live in IL, and he voted against the born alive act 3 TIMES! What that means is if there is a botched abortion, and the baby is actually born and living they can't put the living baby in with the dirty laundry to let it dye with out food, water or comfort. YES, that was actually happening in IL. He says many things why he voted against it. Most are EASILY proven lies, like that if it had the fed requirements he would have voted for it. The last time it did and he still voted NOT to protect the baby. One of his other excuses was that he didn't want the mother to have to question her choice about the abortion! Well, since it is now born, and a seporate individual, does that mean that if I am upset with my child when they are 17, I can lock them in the closet? Give me a break. The pro-abortion crowd uses the excuse that it is the mothers body. Well if the baby is already born it is an individual. IF you voted for obama, that is the type of man you voted for. A man that would allow babies to dye without comfort. You would go to jail if you did that to a dog!

    December 11, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Jack Fritscher

    Why does Colin Powell in his rehearsed litany of "African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters," ALWAYS FAIL to note that GAY AND LESBIAN VOTERS and TAXPAYERS also deserve RESPECT and consideration. What is it with folks who fail to realize that "Civil Rights" applies to all people, not just racial folk? Hey. I'm just sayin'.

    December 11, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. Tess

    This is ridiculous! Conservatives can listen to whomever they please! Without Rush Limbaugh, a lot of people would be unaware of what was happening in the world of politics, since the media tries to cover so much of it up. Thank GOD for conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who are not afraid to speak out and speak up. The guy doesn't scream; he speaks common sense. He doesn't speak to various groups of people based upon their skin color; he speaks to AMERICANS. By the way, Colin Powel is about as Republican as Barack Obama is centrist. This is just the liberals' way of trying to being the silencing of conservative talk radio. God bless Rush Limbaugh and God bless America! Thank you.

    December 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. Lois

    I was sickened by reading some of the early e-mails. Gen. Powell is one of the finest, wisest, most genuine Ameriacans in the public eye. I deeply admire his wise inisights and honest commentary. If only he had been president, the country would be in much better shape than it is now.

    By the way, I grew up in the US but in my 40s, I moved to Canada. I can't express how thankful I am to be in the Canadian Health Care system. No, it is not perfect. But, having had one knee replacement and soon to have another, I'm thankful for the health care that I get here. I probably could not have affored to have knee replacements were I still in the US.

    Regarding the influence of the fundamentalists on the government, I am also appaled. I was raised in a fundmentalist religion. Now, looking back, I clearly see the evils that are perpetrated by fundamentalists on their fellow man. They are narrow minded, judgemental, and arrogant. Their mindset makes "arguments futile and facts useless" to quote Theodocius Dobzhansky. Religion has no place in politics.

    December 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Colin the Powerless has succumbed to the unholy left. He cannot challenge the insight and wisdom of the great one. Why did he make such a case for the war in Iraq before the UN Security Council, be called a "house negro" by a Chavez-loving hazbin, and then promote the Messiah as the second coming of Christ? I can only say that if he is writing a new book, I'm sure it'll make the NY times bestseller list. Oh, is that before they declare bankruptcy. Or after? Oh yeah, just call 1800OBAMA and he can get bailed out. Maharushie is truly a gift from god and i thank him everyday for helping me understand what a waste of human flesh liberalism is. hey smoke another bowl huh?

    December 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |

    Colin Powell was a once a strong man but was looking for acceptance. He was shunned as house negro by Belafonte and defended by no prominent blacks. At the by the State Department he was shunned until he crumbled and did a piss poor job as a Secretary of State. This is a guy who would have been a very poor president and now slams a radio host, who'd destroy him in any debate. I feel sorry for Powell.

    December 11, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  24. RSCOTT

    I am not surprised at Gen Powell's change of attitude – it is curious however that he is " blaming" Rush for speaking the truth isounds a little like the Minister of Propaganda under Herr Hitler. Keep talking Rush there are a lot of persons who want to hear the TRUTH not the propaganda from the left.

    December 11, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. Sigmond

    Is Powell suggesting mnorities are all liberal Democrats and none are conservative?

    December 11, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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