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. Philip Saenz

    Hey, General Powell, if you don't like to listen to Rush Limbaugh, why don't you turn your radio off? I like Rush. I don't like Democrats like you because of their sordid agenda, i.e., abortion, same sex marriages, infanticide after a failed partial birth abortion. You voted for Barack Obama because he's black and a staunch Democrat.

    December 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  2. Tony on Cape Cod

    I don't understand why Powel continues to call himself a Republican. The only thing that party ever did for him was make him look like a deceiving fool (which he's not) in his WMD UN speech. And he seems a decent man, not a of the mean-spirited Republicans.

    Recently, I asked a "Conservative" if he wanted to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. He said, "No, I need my checks; and who can pay their medical bills without Medicare these days." So, we keep both major social programs, I said, so what's this crap about being a conservative?

    December 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. usualone

    The comments of some of the public within this blog are scarey because they are so hateful. General Powell is such a thoughtful man. The prejudices expressed in the comments of others are hopefully only a minority of Americans. Mr. McCain lost the election and because Sarah Palin would make comments that were so divisive referring to the true Americans, et al, she was a big hindrance to him. George Bush was a big part of the problem; but the McCain campaign only wanted to divide us too. With all the problems in America and the world these days, we need a more united "rational" America.

    December 11, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. norma

    I think Powell meant to say stop listening to Hannity too. These radio people are just baiting people and continue "shouting to the world" They are responsible for all of the devisiveness. Listeners start thinking that their fellow human beings are really physically conservative or liberal....and there is NO difference!!!

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

    I think Mr. powell is a fine person, but not a strong person. For to reach the rank of General and then not have the conviction to say what you really think until out of office is not very honorable. I never heard him defend himself when called an Uncle Tom in the Bush administration, but he is quick to criticize Rush Limbaugh. General, Rush does what you didn't have the courage to do. You are why it is true that the privates are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the military, not the Generals. Mr. Powell, sorry, you are not the story anymore, don't loose what integrity you have left.


    December 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. larryesperando

    The republican party is already defeated, they have become democrate-liberal light. Conservatism will emerage as it has always done and is always color blind based on excellence. I remember hearing in 2002 that the democrat party was defeated and will fad away, well history continues to repeat itself. I have voted republican for president since 1984. This was the first year that I refused to vote for president. Return to states rights and reduce the federal gov't to minimum services and power.

    December 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. chuck

    For Me I'm glad he switched sides...Someone with his miltary background should know better. He obvious was more of an subordinate than anyone would have thought. His lack of judgement at the end of the Irag war was a disgrace to his rank.

    December 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |

    Oh, puh-leese...Gen Powell is going to lecture Republicans on ethical behavior? Care to explain why, when you knew for TWO YEARS, that your deputy, Richard Armitage was the person that leaked Valerie Plahms name (self it) to the press, you forgot to mention it while the press blamed Bush, Cheney, and for all I know, Mother Theresa for the leak. Yep, lots of integrity there, all right. Speaking of integrity, way to back stab Senator McCain, a life long friend (by your admission) and, like yourself, a liberal in conservative clothing who agrees with you on almost every subject, by supporting Obama. That didn't have anything to do with race, did it, or the hope for an administration post, did it? Yeah, you're quite the one to be throwing rocks at the party you supported all your life. Integrity, yep, thats YOU!

    December 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  9. Dean

    Colin Powell is NOT a Republican. Never Was. You fools who say McCain and Powell would turn the Republican party around are crazy. They would be Democrat Lite. Conservatism is what the Party needs. Limbaugh is right, he espouses conservatism consistently. Reagan was a conservative. People like Powell need to go to the party that they belong in, the Democrat Party. We don't need moderates polluting our party.

    December 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  10. Josh

    It's a sad commentary when someone like Colin Powell believes the color of one's skin is what dictates their beliefs. No one, not even Rush Limbaugh, should put aside their beliefs in order to placate people who find the color of their skin more important than ideals and values. There is nothing wrong with strongly presenting your views that reflect your ideals and values – ideals and views I might add that should cross all ethnic lines. It's also a shame that people are more concerned with how someone says something rather than if what they are saying is right.

    December 11, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  11. Merle

    ANYHOO!! Powell lost his credibility before the Iraq war at the U.N.!!! LOL, This aint news

    December 11, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. Richard

    Powell seems to be a real man of integrity. No wonder he had problems with Bush.

    December 11, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  13. Chad

    Proud of republicans. Unpopular choices are to blame. Don't give up and get back in the game.

    December 11, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. Debbi

    The problem is, Republicans have changed for the worse! Not because they have gone to the right, but because of the moderates in the party! If Republicans do better PR, they can affect change. The right doesn't have to move at all! I love those who think so. They couldn't be more incorrect.

    December 11, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  15. Freedom Lover

    Why Colin Powell, you are a racist! I used to have the utmost respect for you, but saw your true colors when you backed the marxist in waiting. Now you want to silence the opposition. You are a sellout and make me sick!!!! You have lost your dignity so now your only option is to be one more sleazy liberal.

    By the way Fairness Doctrine defenders, this won't only affect the listeners. AM radio will shut down, thus more jobs go away. Remember, we aren't idiots on the right side. We are truth seekers and since we can't rely on the Obama media to get the truth, we have other ways. We will not be silenced. You people are fools who want to infringe on free speech. You think it won't affect you. Read some history since you are lacking in knowledge. There was a another evil dictator named Hitler. You might want to take a look at what he did to take over Germany. Don't think your messiah won't do the same.

    I smell revolution in the air!

    December 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. Alan Yeung

    The world will be a much better place when the likes of Shane H, Limbaugh, and Papa Bear are out of a job.

    December 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  17. a ridgerunner

    In reading the responces in this the problem with America are only spotlighted. We continue to elect politicians to office when there is almost a single digit approval rating. We are not happy with ourselves, much less our leadersship. Too bad people cannot see the light for the glare. I disagree with Gen. Powell, but I cannot be bitter with him. I do not think the problem with the economy falls with the President, but with the Congress and their mismanagement. Please, do not give up for your moral and fiscal conseravatism – it is what made this nation great and will continue it on the track to a historical first – a long term people of the people, for the people and by the people. But since the electorate has now found the purse strings and is voting to their own bellies, how long can it last...

    December 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. Georgia Clay

    Reagan-style Conservatism is not the problem......lukewarm Republicans wanting to be buddy-buddy with the Washington cocktail party set are.

    Sound like anyone who was interviewed in this article??

    December 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. Kenny C

    He's nothing but a turn coat.....this man has the Oprah can see it in his eyes. He's lost ....
    Reagan made this he's turning in his grave.

    December 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Tedd

    So, once again Democrats – or ex Republicans such as Powell – are trying to peg The Republican Party as a party of intolerance and racism. Shame on Powell for yet again playing the race card in an attempt to gain credibility in the black community.

    December 11, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  21. wakemeup

    If conservatism is so great why is it that no conservative can name another country where it works?

    December 11, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Disappointed GOP Supporter

    Hey General Powell . . listening to Rush Limbaugh and talk radio doesn't appeal to our "lesser instincts" ignoring the content of a candidate's character, or or where they stand on issues, and voting instead based upon their skin color would a "lesser instinct".

    All people Republican or Democrat should avoid voting based upon such benign factors as pigment, if we are ever to live in a truly color blind society.

    December 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  23. JustJoe

    What's so strange about a RINO like Powell who was promoted to CJCS in the Pentagon by a republican. Then became SOS by another republican telling the world that republicans need to favor the minority ? Then his son being appointed to the FCC by a republican.

    Look where you've been Mr. Powell and who placed you . A graduate from a 2rd rate college in New York and into the stature you now shout down ? Youre mind for politics may be state of the art as a RINO but your analytical skills are middle school level simply pandering to the momentary power of a Chicago punk.

    December 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  24. Former (SGT) Frank Fulton

    General Powell is in service of his counrty first as a former soldier, not a political party. Thats why he said what he said. I wish more people were like him.

    December 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  25. Tom pysher

    General, you've been in DC to long, Rush Limbaugh speaks for the majority of America. You would do well to travel this land and hear what ordinary Americans think about Obama and the Liberals. Respectfully, A retired Master Sergeant.

    December 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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