December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Powell: GOP 'polarization' backfired in election

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Amazed

    Yeah, who needs principles, values, freedom, self reliance...let's bank our future on separating ourselves from each other by race, minority or majority status, hearts and minds (whatever that means...anyone know?)...'Heart' is caring about our fellow Americans, and Conservative values clearly do that (polarization = disagreement to a Liberal), 'Minds' means, who the heck knows. Working hard, seeking self reliance and earning money in a free capitalist market, being kind and charitable, opposing oppression by government...I'm a Conservative. Powel is a Liberal Democratic who now sides with Socialism. There is so much more to say, but I'm going to bed.

    December 11, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  2. Darren

    Rush Limbaugh is not the problem. The problem is weak Republicans like Colin Powell. We need more Americans to listen to Limbaugh and stop being fed lies by the Obama media.

    December 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  3. Fred Reyes

    There is one good Republican in the United States of America after all. I salute you Sir!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  4. U.R. Dreaming

    Colin Powell should just shut his pie-hole. He has NO right to say anything about the Republican Party, good, bad or indifferent. He supported Barack Hussein Obama. No real Republican would ever do that. Enough said.

    Colin Powell is a traitor to the party that gave him a chance to hold high office in this country, it was not the "first black president" nor the democrat party that elevated Powell, it was the REPUBLICANS.

    Colin Powell wants to hold a position in the Obama administration, that much is clear. But if he has any honor left he should first resign from the party.

    December 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  5. toni

    Powell was only made a general by virtue of affirmative action. Without affirmative action he would be a shoe shine boy. So who cares what a shoe shine boy says. Powell is a flip flop Republican like McCain, one minute he is Republican and the next he is a Democrat.
    I wish these minorities would sit back and figure out what “Affirmative action really says about them

    December 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  6. doh

    Oh yeah ... I like this tabout? We get a bunch of Disc Jockeys and TV personalities, to tell us how to run the tell us what our laws should tell us what our social agenda should tell us how we should live and with whom we should live...yeah that's the ticket a bunch of "entertainers" ...just like THEY rail's too too funny...they are the 'stars" foisting their politics off on the public...

    December 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. Howard

    Powell is not a Republican. He's like the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-birth control, pro-woman priest, etc. people who still say that they're Catholic. No, they are not. If you supported the most liberal member of the senate, the democratic candidate, you really can not say the you're a Republican. Mr. Powell is a liberal socialist democrat no matter what he wants to pretend to be.

    December 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. Tom

    Nice. So Powell singles out a radio talk show host. Nothing said about the "Rock The Vote", the scores of leftist eltists from Hollywood and the hypocritical socialists in a very capitalistic university system.

    This is deplorable for Powell to stoop to this level. He's a caricature of his former self.

    Michael Steele – a black republican in MD had oreo cookies thrown at him by Democrats.

    How about we address the lies and "dishonest narratives" portraying the Republican Party and more importantly conservatives like Ron Paul as fringe elements, excluding people.

    If you support the Constitution of the United States, the limiting of Federal Government power in the states, and a return to what the fed is supposed to be doing according to that funky thing Obama will swear to uphold – The Constitution.

    Welcome Aboard.

    Powell, enjoy the house, you made it. Don't forget your brothers in the field – like Michael Steele.

    December 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  9. Del Son

    Lets get something straight, you can not be a Republican and then support Obama. The modern Democrat party is socialist garbage. It is great that a minority is in office oh yeah, but once the Hollywood Media gloat fest is over it is time to put up or shut up. The Republicans lost because lazy people all want a hand out (at someone else's expense.) and the Republicans abandoned their conservative base. Powell is a Lib and nothing more.

    December 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. Mike in NYC

    Actually, Nostromo, the kind of transfer you're talking about took place in South Africa and Zimbabwe, with less than stellar results.

    Could there have been a starker statement that non-whites are permitted to have ethnic interests, but whites are not?

    Wake up, white people. Especially those of you who think the Republican party represents your interests. Sure, the Dems are the "enemy," but the GOP will cast you aside in a heartbeat to win the favor of the "New America."

    December 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  11. alwaysright

    Just what are conservatives to learn from listening to minorities? Allow open borders? Reparations? Cradle to grave care? Forget self determination? The government is here to help you? NOT.

    December 11, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  12. Ashamed

    It amazes me how divided we are in this nation. It's really gone down the crapper in the last 8 years, and doesn't seem to get getting any better. Hate mongers like Limbaugh, each of you simply going back at each other instead of trying to FIX the problems.

    You'd rather fight than DO anything. It's making me sick. Canada keeps looking better and better every day.

    December 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. Jaime H.

    Yes, we morons have no one else!
    We want to forget our true AMERICAN values, and just fall into chaos.
    GOD save us, and this UNITED States of America.

    December 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  14. Carlos

    Powell is getting creepy now, sounds like a tyrant to me, I thought he was fighting for our right to listen to whomever we want?

    Rush makes more sense than the addlebrained Powell in supporting "the messiah"...

    December 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. Left Coast Mike

    Powell ensorsed Obama because he is sort of black. Plain and simple.

    Obama has been a nothing Senator and he will be a nothing President. Just like Carter and Clinton.

    December 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. U.R. Dreaming

    Memo to Colin Powell:

    Maybe you should start to listen to Rush Limbaugh. He makes more sense than you do.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. gp

    Isn't Bush a Thug and Barbarian. He's conservative. Actually he is the biggest one of them all.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Michelle

    I agree, Republicans don't seem to have it together, BUT, someone has to stand for what is right and good in this country and it sure isn't the democrats. Both parties have absolutely no understanding anymore about right and wrong. Both parties, but mostly the democrat party, consistently support policies which allow people to continue to act irresponsibly without having to suffer any consequences. The most recent event being the bailout of Fannie and Freddie, but the abortion issue also comes to mind. Someone has to stand up for what is right and what is wrong. I don't know who that will be but it sure isn't the Democrats and it won't be Obama. If you think the Republicans were bad during the election, I can't imagine what it will be like for the next 4 years. It won't be pretty.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  19. A.T.

    Wonder why Colin Powell didn't list specific issues and then illustrate by the use of reason why Rush is wrong. Probably because he can't. He just attacks the person with a strawman about shouting at people that shows he's never listened to Rush.

    Or apparently all the gay marriage people. Or the Democrats that interrupted to Republican convention trying to shout down McCain, etc. Democrats are all about shouting down people.

    The problem with moderates is that they don't know what they believe or why. They just go where the wind (media) pushes them.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  20. Darrell Burks

    Powell is a true conservative at its best. As an African American myself, and I consider myself a Liberal. I can respect him as a Republican and a conservative. He is so right – right in the correct terms

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. Tor Lars

    Rush is brilliant, and very, very humorous... and Powell's a boor. Look who's lecturing conservatives... geez.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Powell has no integrity.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. billly


    I will listen to whom I choose, including Rush. When his conservative program appeals to fewer and fewer, the market will decide what becomes of his program. Stations and sponsors will drop him.

    Until then, remember sir, that you fought so I could listen to the program I choose, and Rush could offer programming he chooses, so long as the market wants it. When the market does not, he can join Arthur Godfrey and others who eventually left the market. Until then, please don't tell us to stop listening to programs that we choose to listen to, or we will believe that you are being used by the new administration to begin the march to fairness, that is, they will tell us what we can listen to. I choose, along witha few million others, to decide, not you, sir, with all due respect. Billly

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  24. Margaret Pier

    I would suggest that each person make choices for him/herself about whom he/she chooses to listen to, interprets what he/she hears and acts on that according to each person's principles. There are certainly numerous choices.

    December 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  25. Darrell Burks

    Powell is a true conservative at its best. As an African American myself, and I consider myself a Liberal. I can respect him as a Republican and a conservative. He is so correct.

    December 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
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