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. archangel

    As an past combat service veteran, Powell has lost all credibility with most of us. It's sad as he was a great soldier. It's not Rush who panders to our lessor qualities, it is the liberal and quasi-conservatives like Powell and Clark. It's that dangerous pair of idiots, Pelosi and Reid. It's those puffed up bums like Kerry. It's those, whatever s like Frank and Dodd. It's those country club Republicans who have remained full of themselves and lost their way from the people and conservatism. I've listened to Rush for 20 years and there is no better spokesman for all that is sane and good about this great land than this most misunderstood and wrongly reviled man. He is truly the Thomas Paine of our days. History will smile upon his great mind and kind heart. Shame on you Powell and the rest of you who are unlearned and selfish and don't have any appreciation or care for the fact you live in the greatest and most bountiful and most free land ever land to ever exist in the history of mankind.

    December 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  2. Biloxi catfish

    Why does this article keep referring to Powell and 'his party' and 'crossing party lines' to support Obama? If Powell is a republican then I'm Secretary of State! Powell has never declared himself a Republican, he only served in a Rebublican administration until he couldn't be loyal to the President. He waited until the last possible minute to endorse Bush in 2000 and the extreme last possible minute to endorse Obama. He only endorsed Obama so as to not raise the ire of other black leaders in the U.S. Powell is not a Republican and never has been. He is an opportunist who knows nothing about Rebublican virtues and ideals. Republican fortunes will improve when we got back to being the party of Reagan which included the'big tent' policy of Lee Atwater.

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. JV

    He's right about the GOP, and also about Rush Limbaugh. Mainstream America isn't buying what he's selling. That goes for Palin as well. You have no proof that Powell is not a Republican!

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. J Reid

    You are incorrect Mr Powell.
    It is not the GOP that is polarized. It is our nation that is polarized.
    You are in effect asking conservative people to surrender their principles; principles largely responsible for the strength and prosperity this nation has enjoyed.
    The liberal/socialist ideology advocated by todays Democrat party does not include adherance to principles. Nor does it exhibit any legitimate measure of unity. Their interest is in making sure everyone believes they can do as they please without significant effort or contribution. "Vote Democrat" is their only requirement. This has never succeded...anywhere on the planet.
    The economic turmoil we are experiencing will get worse and through this many will come to understand both the value of principles and the folly of expecting the government to meet their needs.

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Edward Cropper

    Colin Powell is a liberal democrat parading around as a moderate Republican. He has nothing to offer any political party because he is a fence ridding wimp.
    He is where he is today because of Ronald Reagan plain and simple.
    He hid in the bushes until he saw a very possible Obama election then sprang forward to get a few network moments.
    Until blacks get off what Reagan called the democrat plantation Republicans can forget about winning any of them over to their side no matter what they might offer.

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Tim

    Re: T J Clarks comments.

    Right on. Where are the conservative political leaders that speak the way you do? If we had a leader that professed these truths, Obama would have been defeated in a landslide!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  7. wyobabe

    (1)If Rush weren't effective, and "right on", he wouldn't still be the target of the left. (2)The left wants to "silence" opposing views....because they cannot offer credible arguments....only character destruction. They actually do the deeds that they accuse the other party of.(3) Mr Powell is going after Rush because Rush pretty adequately described Mr Powell's motives to a "tee". Let's watch this web of Chicago politics play out....

    December 11, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  8. Graywolf

    Powell doesn't know what he's talking about. He himself obviously *doesn't* listen to Rush Limbaugh. He's stereotyping Limbaugh based on Demmy caricatures.

    Come on, Colin. For years you've been looking for approval from the leftist press. It's time you did what you've wanted to do all along. Go and join the Democratic Party.

    Attack Christianity, support gay marriage, promote abortion, let the Chinese drill for oil off our coasts but stop us from doing so - go full-nutso Demmy, my man. It's time.

    December 11, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. Geo.

    Colin Powell, he has ears but cannot hear, he has eyes but cannot see, and the heart maybe harden. The truth will always be ignored by the agendas of the lost.

    December 11, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Independent_me

    Well said, Mr. Powell!

    The Republican party has now come to signify intolerance, hyprocrisy, self-righteousness and bullying.

    I used to be Republican and I had to change because of their ugly, hateful behavior. The Rush Limbaugh / Shawn Hannity/ Savage and O'Reilly gang that rule the conservative media make me sick. They do not love America. They make millions by dividing the country and promoting hate and discord. Only racists and extremists listen to them and support them.... and, unfortunately, we will always have those amongst us...

    December 11, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. Tom

    I submit that Secretary Powell endorsed Obama within a week of testifying before a federal jury ON THE BEHALF of the now-convicted Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) as a character witness. Stevens is corrupt and Powell took his side. This has nothing to do with President-Elect Obama other than Colin Powell's judgement of character.

    December 11, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. Jan Illinois

    You are no hero in my eyes, The gop. should throw you out. Some might forget how you " helped get us into Iraq, I won't" A hero would have came out on the white house steps and screamed the truth about what you knew, you didn't. You go against your chosen party to endorse Obama, after claiming to be a friend to McCain, with friends like you we sure don't need enemies.

    December 11, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. Outspoken Roman

    Great idea – dilute the republican party and make it more like the democrats, all but guaranteeing one party rule. The republican party should not be listening to anyone who offers a solution to them that is to be more like the democrats. Bush tried that and has overseen the largest expansion of Government in recent memory.

    This is a prescription for republican party suicide and it should be rejected.

    December 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. You

    I agree. It's going to be a rough few years for the GOP if they don't stop polarizing the Old White Man party they've created. The youth of today were disgusted with the Bush and what they saw were conservatives. If the GOP wants to remain a major party they've got to open their doors. This doesn't mean losing your values, it means that they'll have to figure out a way to return to their original principals. For example, same-sex marriage. Republicans trout less government regulation... so why are they supporting the government for telling who you can and can't marry? I see the future of the GOP has to take is like the Libertarian party. Who was did the youth overwhelming support? Ron Paul.

    December 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. Ditcatcher

    What Republican party? It's being run by a bunch of RINO's that are just liberal lite. This last election showed it. we had a choice of lib lite and and far left BHO. I voted for McCain holding my nose. You think we had problems with Pres Bush, set back and enjoy the show while we are bankrupted and socilized.They can't wait to get into office and take over businesses, wipe out free speech on radio, tie up or economy with Algore's fraudulent man made global warming.

    If anyone spends any time at all listening to Rush you know the comments are BS. He has said over and over that he is a conservative and when the Republican party quits trying to beat the Dem's at their own game and get back to ther core values then he'll be back. That's ditto for me. The country doesn't stay as one instead of all this we have to this for this group and that for that group that's going on now. We will just become as screwed up as europe has become. But why am I wasting my time, I'm talking to people who just voted in someone they know nothing about, got is training Cook county politics and all he had to do was talk nice and use 3rd grade slogans like "Yes We Can" and they get on their knees to worship the anointed, or maybe like Chris Mathews, listening to BHO sends thrills up and down his legs.

    December 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  16. Colderdayz

    Colin Powell portends to speak for Republicans? He's a RINO, and clearly voted for Obama because of the color of his skin, not the content of his character. Phoney!

    December 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  17. hotoffthepress

    Admit it, General Powell, you're a liberal at heart. If you were a true conservative, you would know that most Republicans think for themselves instead of allowing others to think for them.

    December 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. heavyweight

    the so called GOP is always petting itself on the back,with all that talk about being conservative,real american,hockey mom, Joe six pack jazz! What they need to do is stop talking as if no one outside of this picture has any values or points of view. During the election MCcain and Palin were talking stuff like, let take America back!!! FROM WHOM? THE AMERICAN PEOPLE......

    December 11, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  19. Samba

    Mr Powell

    You are not a conservative. You are a neoconservative (aka socialist) such as Bush and there isn't really any difference between neocons and democrats. Limbaugh is one of the few who truly still speaks about what conservatism means and what it stands for.

    Powell you sold out a long time ago for your $50k speaking gigs... you supported Obama (a known collectivist/socialist) when you knew McCain was done. Mr Powell, you are a tool in every since of the word. I have no respect for you.

    Bring on the real conservatives such as Ron Paul and even Sarah Palin who would not sell our her own conservative beliefs when McCain and her were such opposites.

    People have had enough of living in despotism, under GOP rule or DNC rule. We need to vote for someone who has shown true principles and who won't sell us out to the banksters.

    December 11, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  20. Peter F.

    Can any of you people spell?

    December 11, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. Eddie-MS

    General Powell is a Republican in name only. When liberals run out of arguments in the arena of ideas they always declare with such high moral conviction that conservatives are divisive, appeal to our lessor instincts and are just mean spirited. What a crock.

    Let me be clear. Liberals are either dirt poor and sincerely need help or are rich, white, guilt ridden, highly educated that have no sense of reality.

    Conservatism does not need to be redefined. Values do not evolve. Integrity does not evolve. Conservatism encourages people to hold freedom, self reliance and belief in the human spirit to triumph against all odds. In contrast to conservatism, liberalism says you can't make it on your own because you are a victim because of your race, education, family history, or a multitude of other reasons why people are a failure and will always be a failure. Liberals make excuses and are really pitiful. I used to be a liberal then I grew up.

    Colin Powell is a liberal and needs to go polish his stars.

    December 11, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  22. ratdog

    The majority of Americans are idiots, they voted for hope and change and got a darker clinton. Powell is a liberal hack who

    December 11, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. 13th Generation Virginian

    I know not what others may choose, but has for me Give me Liberty or Give me Death. I don't give up my convictions! Its not right or left, Its right or wrong! By the way ,It,s alright to wish me Merry Christmas.

    December 11, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  24. T Hawk

    Colin Powel must be living n a cave. Republicans aren't listening to Rush– not the ones in power. Republicans are basically the same as democrats now. And Colin, you are not a conservative. You are a liar.

    December 11, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  25. Bifford

    The truth doesn't need to change... as much as others would like it to change. Limbaugh tells the truth. Don't forget, he's a mixture of information, commentary and humor.

    Listen for two months, and if you don't continue, your wiring is not hooked up right.

    December 11, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
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