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. Michelle Melendrez from El Paso

    I love Rush Limbaugh!

    December 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  2. ccoffer

    Can WE listen to Rush?? Who the hell is "WE", Colon?

    Colon Powell is no more a Republican than Al Gore is.

    December 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  3. Peter J. Fonte

    The only thing more idiotic than Powell's comments (and if that schlep is a Republican, then I'm a bleeding MARTIAN) are those comments by the linguini spined, hate spewing, factually challenged, revisionist historian, elitist liberals that call the Commie News Network home.

    You swine are proof that liberalism is a mental disorder for which there is NO treatment.

    December 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  4. Steverino

    America was fed up with President Bush who acted like a Democrat. John McCain lost because he also was a Democrat. Even Republicans wanted change from open borders and foolish spending. Colin Powell is simply another RINO.

    A conservative Republican would have unprescedented support from conservatives of both parties.

    December 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  5. ryan

    Colin Powell is ridiculous. There was a time when he was in office, and HE didn't even know what party he belonged to. If he wants to start telling the Republican party (which is clearly not conservative anymore) what they should do, maybe he should be Republican in more than just name.

    If Obama was right about one thing, its that the Republican party is just "more of the same". The only people who have the power to turn this country around are too scared to hold convictions that might not be popular with everybody, and instead of finding the "bi-partisan" ground they think they now hold, they have just angered the conservative base that elected them. When will we open our eyes and see where we're driving our country? Politicians aren't the ones to change things, we are, the voters. Instead of sitting around and whining all day, lets start doing something about our situation by standing for what we believe in and doing everything we can to get our point across! WE are the CHANGE we've been waiting for, all we need to do is act!

    December 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  6. Mike

    All of you conservative republicans who are trash-talking Colin Powell's message, please, go ahead. Your failure to pay attention to his words will ensure continued success for the Democrats. A Republican ticket of Palin-Limbaugh in 2012 - go for it!!! I love you wackos.

    December 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  7. DJR

    Imagine that! Again the left is thrilled of what the right has to say. It is logical to believe that as the country and it's people go out of existence into some form of universal world average position that the democrats who bring us fantasies via holly wood and New York shall lead the way. as the youth jump up shouting old and decrepitude the young about to find out about work and servitude. Enjoy!

    December 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  8. Ancient Texan

    Colin Powell is not a Republican. That's as big a stretch as saying Chuck Hagel is a Republican. Both are opportunist looking for a job. Hopefully both will remain unemployed.

    December 11, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    I stopped listening to Rush when he sold out to the FIRST Bush administration. Far from being a true conservative, he traded in his status as "Pat Buchanan's press secretary" for a few nights in George and Barbara's spare bedroom, a fat paycheck from CheapChannel and neo-con trappings.

    I've also read Powell's autobiography and heard him speak. He's interesting, engaging, and had a good ghostwriter. That said, he's no conservative, whatever he may say. More proof, if any was needed, that good generals don't necessarily make good politicians.

    A conservative solution to American government has not been tried and found wanting – rather, since Reagan, it has been sorely wanted but not tried.

    December 11, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Byron

    Hey Powell, how about standing up for values and principles, instead of pandering to every demographic?

    McCain IS EXACTLY what your recommending buddy, he pandered to the hispanics and still lost 3-1. So moral of the story, you don't have a clue what your talking about. Sellout

    December 11, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. Bob S

    General Powell,

    What happened to you? I had an opinion that you were a great man at one time. The unrelenting forces that corrupt our leadership in Washington have had their way with you! Thank God you have minimal power at this time. Even though you were not an elected offical, your way of thinking is so typical of the poverty of intellect and spirit rampant in government. The discussion of term limits must be revived . As much as I dislike the idea of term limits for our elected officials, this may be one device we can use to save ourselves. May God truely bless America for the sake of the World!

    December 11, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. dan thiel - ducks unlimited

    Colin Powell is a friend of Ducks Unlimited and any friend of DU is a friend of mine. As we in DU like to say, if you cannot hunt, get offf the porch. Colin is a TRUE conservative with American values. Hell he even has a family! How much more conservative can you be!!! As for Rush Limbaugh, he is a card carrying member of the NRA, so back off you critics. I would be honored to have him in my duck stand any day.

    December 11, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. mike

    We need SOMEBODY like RUSH to polarize us. If we don't what would be the difference in voting for Obama or McCain in the last election?

    December 11, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. Vegas Vic

    Thank-you Collin Powell for joining the world in change. As we all know change is good and good is wonderful! We have seen through your eyes that forgetting who you are is easy when you want change. And when change helps you attain your ultimate goal, we’ll that’s the best kind of change.

    December 11, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  15. zatom114

    what is the difference between the Democratic and Republican party? exactly, not much.

    We need a new, third party, back to our Country's roots Conservatism that made this Country great. I am not advocating that we go back the times of Slavery and the Wild West. I served my country to keep it safe and I find myself under threat of imprisonment paying hundreds of types of taxes.

    Why is 1/3 of my money going to Welfare programs?? Why does a highschool need a $500,000 practice football field that I have to pay for? Why are teachers making more than me now and the education level going down every year? Why should I work harder?? I am tired of global warming and political correctness...

    Close the Borders, Make English the official Language, Teach kids Reading / Writing and Arithmetic, and keep the governments hands out of our pocket.... we know best how to spend/save/donate the money we earn...

    December 11, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  16. John Schuh

    While Powell was not looking, the Democratic Party went far, fat to the left, and he wants the Republicans to go in that direction. I will listen to Poweel when he mentions the rabid partisanship of the likes of Dick Durbin.

    December 11, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  17. Glen Heiman

    Powell's comments are no surprise. He has never been a conservative. And he supports racism above the country.

    December 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  18. JB

    When will all the RINO's stop telling us to be more liberal? The Republican party just tried to elect a "moderate" in McCain and it got them nowhere. I'm tired of all these go along to get along people ignoring the fact that Obama and many of the Democrats who won in 2006 and 2008 ran as centrists or essentially conservatives. People in this country want less governernment regulation and spending. People like Colin Powell need to understand that just because someone is a conservative does not mean that they are trying to push "lesser" instincts. The only way liberals are willing to get along with any conservative is if they abandon every principle that makes them a conservative. Point number one: Colin Powell.

    December 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  19. christy

    The republican party will not change. Sadly Limbaugh represents that base. He is a symptom not the cause. The thinly veiled bigotry that spews from his show (and others like it) is representative of the under current that runs through the republican party. I would have voted for Paul or Huckabee, but they obviously don't represent that party.

    December 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  20. Ronald F. Adams

    I am a Conservative, I believe in truth and honor in public service. Marxism and communist attitudes are not acceptable no matter what political party is pushing them. Let the free market cure its own problems, if the public doesn't want to buy a product the company should be allowed to fail. We are Americans, not afro-american, irish american or Latinos, just americans. Get going or get the heck out of the way. Colin Powell should be ashamed of himself, he has allowed racism to become his mantra and he is proving that it is more important to be liked by his buddies than to be a loyal american.

    December 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  21. Proud Conservative

    Colin Powell? He's still around?

    I can't believe anyone would care what he thinks. He's a has-been looking to revive his "glory days" – for what they were worth! LOL

    Rush's voice is the most intelligent and reasonable on ANY of the airwaves today. If Liberals ever get what they say they want in this country, they'll be suffering from buyers remorse within a couple of years – but it'll be too late to "fix." Who will they cry, whine, and moan to then? Liberal Dems don't care about them – it's almost funny to think about, if it weren't so sad.

    December 11, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  22. sandee in Portland

    @posunivy: "Rush is a genius". LOL, if you really believe that, the republicans are in even bigger trouble than everyone thinks. Only a complete moron who gets their values and news from Rush and doesn't do any research on issues on their own would think he is a "genius". LMAO

    December 11, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. valwayne

    I would agree that the Republican party needs to reach out to African Americans and Latinos, but not with the same drivel as the democrats. African Americans and Latinos need economic freedom and individual liberty to succeed just as much as any other group. The big brother government welfare system offered by the democrats has been and will continue to be a disaster for any group that buys into it. I find it odd that Powell still considers himself a Republican. Maybe being a General and knowing how the rest of the world really works precludes him from considering himself a "let's have tea with Iran surrender now democrat", but he clearly is more comfortable with left of center Obama than barely right of center McCain. If the Republican party remade itself to suit Powell we'd clearly have two left of center parties, although the remade Republican party would at least have a sensible foriegn policy. Hardly much of a choice. Powell should just go where he is more comfortable...which is clearly Obama and the democrats. Political parties aren't religions and changing to the party that better reflects your views isn't a sin!!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. Richey

    Colin Powell has his head in the sand. People live conservatively even if they vote for liberals that want to spend all of our money. God help us. Conservatism takes care of the poor and needy, liberalism only promises but never delivers.

    December 11, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Georgia Clay

    Its funny how no one wants to ask radical leftists that now run democrat party to come to the mushy middle. Instead the push is for Republicans to surrender their beliefs.

    All this talk about what the GOP must do boils down to this: the only way to satisfy the dems and work with them is to become just like them. Sorry, not happening. This is not Europe where they have no core beliefs to stand on.

    General Powell has taken a funny political turn. Republicans, NOT DEMOCRATS, are largely responsible for the positions he has held in Washington, his appointments to the Joint Chiefs, the Sec Of State, and in a hot minute he turns and supports someone from a political party whose not only blatantly accuse troops he used to command of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, but whose members used to regularly insult and deride General Powell when he stood with Republican administrations. He also claims that Obama's ties to Bill Ayers aren't worth analyzing. Wonder if he'd feel the same way if he had been Joint Chiefs back when Ayres bombed the Pentagon.

    If that's the kind of 'change' General Powell wants of us, to just turn our backs on a whim, sacrifice them to a democrat party ashamed of America and dying to turn her into a European-style country, then he can keep it.

    December 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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