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. Lynx

    Gift of Maji – You shouldn't be correcting anyones spelling or grammar or anything else. Your comments are riddled with errors, Einstein. For one – it's "Powell" not "Powel". LMAO!

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. Hallis Chalmers

    Traitor! Filthy traitor who is now trying to win favor with the Democrats.

    I have no respect for this bum.

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  3. Susanne

    Who would listen to Powell the ugly traitor acting like a Republican. Somebody like this guy should not talk about Rush he is not good enough to clean his shoes. If you don't listen to Rush, don't belly ache about him, he is a decent man something I would not say about Powell.

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  4. Tony on Cape Cod

    How can you idiots be so fooled by Ruuush Lim-Baw! He has found that by making vicious fun of liberals he can garner a large audience of rednecks and make tons of money. He, himself, has admitted that he is interested only in ratings - the higher he gets the more can be charged for the advertising. If he could get even higher ratings and make even more money by berating conservatives, he'd do it tomorrow.

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  5. Bigd

    Powell is a RINO.

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  6. J

    Colin Powell is right that the GOP needs to rethink how it conducts business. However, this whole business of the GOP always being "bipartisan" and the democrats dropping all pretense every year other than election years has got to stop. The GOP needs to define its principles and stick to 'em. Winning elections is easier when your principals are for sale to most everyone, but living with yourself in those cases is not. And egad, drop the "I hate Rush Limbaugh" nonsense. Rush is one of many radio commentators, and he brings a perspective that is unique from other perspectives, a "diverse viewpoint." Isn't that great? Rush is not hateful, even if he doesn't agree with some of the more bizarre "progressive" points of view. He certainly isn't a spokesperson for the GOP, or even close (though I think that would help).

    December 11, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. Greg

    Hacks like Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly are good at one thing, and that's spewing hate throughout the airways. It's about time for all Republicans to finally see the light and reject the narrow minded beliefs from these idiots. God bless Colin Powell for bucking his party and telling the truth!

    December 11, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. Houston

    Rush Limbaugh speaks the truth, puts events of today in perspective and provides historical facts and background. When he makes a statement, he usually has plenty of facts to support his contentions and his common sense is refreshing. Thank goodness for Rush! We've been saying for thirty years what Rush says via radio and how wonderful it is to realize we aren't alone in our feelings. Thank you, Rush, for justifying our feelings and giving us a much-needed voice!

    December 11, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. SgtMAD

    Go ahead and keep listening to that phoney hillbilly heroin junkie Limbaugh,all he ever did was rant about how anyone that broke any drug law should be thrown in prison but when he gets caught hoarding Ocycotin and doctor shopping he shows himself to be the phoney that he really is.

    you dopes deserve the guy.

    December 11, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. L. K

    Colin Powell is a fool. He could have had it all. Now, he's just another RINO and barely that. He did have gravitas but, politically he's an idiot. I find most republicans turn foolish when confronted by the big bad manic liberal machine. Then rather then defending priniciples they opt for conditional truth. So sad watching logic and wisdom give up to sloganeering and lies.

    December 11, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. daddyb

    RUSH is only being a spokesper......spokesman for Conservative Values. The current crop of shucksters are a watered down mix
    of "whatever feels good" politicians. The values of Conservative government are true and correct. Get out of the way and help people make money and a better life for all!

    Time will tell and my $ is on Maha Rushie.

    December 11, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. Bruce Dickenson

    Fellas, you're gonna want that cowbell

    December 11, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  13. edopto

    I have yet to see a high profile republican take the path of conservitism since President Regan. The more "inclusive" conservitives become the more they will melt into the fabric of liberalism. The "better instincts" are for support of true rights as Americans and protecting those God given rights. Republicans do not represent me. I am Conservitive and when a party can understand what a conservitive is and believes then truley we will be represented; and when a country understands and lives in Consertivitism then truley we will be free. Dear Secretary, you, like many have lost your way.

    December 11, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. Korn Fella

    I think it's really funny when "progressive" people tell others to open up their minds. But, the only thing they want to hear are other people like themselves. One of the basic ideas of our country was the freedom to exchange ideas- not to demonize the people you disagree with. We all want is best for everyone! If you disagree with me today- that's fine, but you may want to agree with me tomorrow. Or, vice versa. I love this country and want nothing but the best for it. More government is not the answer. " You cannot tax a country into prosperity".

    December 11, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  15. s

    After reading some of the post I really understand why the GOP lost. Some of you so called "conservatives" are simply undercover biggots. Do you really believe that ethnic Americans don't share your values. Many people had to put their values aside, and vote Democrat, because the GOP was going to rip this country in two pieces with their under handed racial tactics. You guys need to take a look in the mirror, and ask yourselves if Jesus is please with you.

    December 11, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. ratdog

    Mr. Powell served our country and for that most of us Americans who love our country appreciate him. Other than that he is a liberal hack. The every freedom he defended (speech for you ignorant liberals) is the one thing he is advocating taking away. Let the listening audience determine if Rush should be heard. Regardless of what you think, Rush and people like him are inspiring and entertaining for the 47 percent of us who rejected Obama and his policies. I look forward to watching Obama and his fellow thugs fail miserably.

    December 11, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. Jim

    Let see if I get this straight:
    "GOP must see what is in the "hearts and minds" of African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters "and not just try to nfluence them by… the principles and dogma."
    Therefore Sec. Powell just stated/implied that in the "hearts and minds" of the minorities he listed aren't influenced by principles?
    Jeez...there was a time when having and following principles was actually a good thing...guess not in Powell's world (anymore).

    December 11, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. kbjb028

    And your point Colin, is what???????????????

    December 11, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. charles jones

    The left is far more rigid and flatly hateful than the right. Most right wing commentators have been corgial about obama's election, but the left wing hysteria about bush is out of control (see olbermann).

    The right must push conservative economic values and be more open to other social positions IMO.

    December 11, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  20. bellyboop

    The Republican Party should stick with its principles and dogma–that's the point of having them. What needs to change are the actions of our Republican leaders–they need to walk the talk and stick with their conservative principles. To win again, our leaders need to be more conservative and offer an actual alternative to the Democratic Party, instead of being soft socialists as well.

    December 11, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  21. Chris Berg

    In the U.S. we have 70 million private-sector workers being bankrupted by 100 million Americans on the dole and 30 million government workers who cater to them. Obviously, we are becoming a communist country with all the problems of totalitarianism, heavy taxes, declining standard of living, poorly thought out social politicies, rising unemployment which will lead to an economic collapse. Governemnt leaders are just buying a little time with bailouts while they stuff their pockets. Read I've got my cabin in the mountains outfitted by solar panels, greenhouse, well, wood stove, etc. Good luck boys. When the bread lines get too long I'll watch the poor riot and our cities burn with arson. Europe is already experiencing the beginning of the end of the West.

    December 11, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. John

    General Powell. I thought soldiers fought for the 1st Amendment and would not advocate censorship or the muzzling of a mere radio talk show host. Doesn't freedom of speech meant hat we have the right to make others feel uncomfortable and hear what may be offensive? Limbaugh is an entertainer who entertains millions each week by pointing out the hypocrisy and inconsistencies of the political left using humor as well as accurate criticism. He does this with humor and without four letter words and lies. If Limbaugh is to be muzzled why not John Stewart or the many other liberals on TV who love to point out the same hypocrisy and inconsitencies of the right? What ever happned to Voltaire's defense of freedom of speech when he said, "I totally disgree with what you say but I will fight to death your right to say it"?

    December 11, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. worldchamp

    It was sad to see Colon Powell turn into a front runner. Can you imagine backing Obama 2-3 weeks before the election. Stand tall soldier, you should have gotten in at the beginning. ARE YOU A LEADER OR A FOLLOWER!

    December 11, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  24. Dr. A. D. Musila

    Republicans do not have any minorities in elective positions. Mel Martinez of Florida is leaving and the replacement is rumoured to be Jeb Bush, the former Governor (remember the elections?). Unless you are white, you have no part in the Republican party. Le's face it, the party is Strom Thurmond is the party of former souther Democrats, who switched from the Democratic party becasue the Democratic party was becoming too "open" It is not the party of Lincoln. It is the party of Trent Lott (remember what he said of Strom Thurmond several years ago?). Interesting thing is that they all harped on Obama and reverend Writing "why didn't leave the church?" Did they ever leave the Republican party when southern racists like Strom Thurmond joined? When he opposed Truman as a Dixiecrat, Thurmond's motto was "Segregation yesterday, segragation today, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever" They sat with him in the Senate for almost half a century. And there was no moral outrage from the Republicans when it was revealed upon his death that Mr. Thurmond, the leading segregationist, had fathered childen with black women who had worked in his house. I know someone will respond to me with names like Condolleezza Rice as a high ranking Republican. Before they do so, they should remember that we are talking about eleced officials, not appointed ones.
    Good for you Collin. Call it straight. Rush Limbugh is a leading demagogue and so are the Republicans who subscribe to him.
    Dr. A. D. Musila.

    December 11, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. Dave the dittomeister

    It's a good thing Rush is such an incompetent boob...

    December 11, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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