December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
11 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. Mary Lou Saracino

    I used to respect Colin Powell. Not anymore. He's a traitor to traditional American values – the ones on which our great country was founded.

    December 11, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. Duane Lamers

    What the libs here want is an alternative Dem-lite party. The GOP has given them that, and the libs (rightly) went for Democratic regular. Remember McCain? He got the endorsement of the NYT in the primaries. Do you know why? The NYT and all libs found McCain to be an acceptable alternative if the Dems didn't win. What does that tell you of lib expectations of the GOP? Everything! The present GOP is not an alternative to liberalism, which is why it is in trouble. I'll bet the farm that if the electorate is given a true alternative to liberal government, it will vote for it. As for Powell, he is the personification of what is wrong with the GOP. Here in Michigan we have that personification in former gov. Wm. Milliken. I say let the Dem-lites go to the Dem party. It may take a few years for a reconstituted GOP to get up to speed, but it will then become the dominant party–for more than one or two election cycles, I believe.

    December 11, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  3. zookyu

    What a shame. A black man working hard and living the American dream just can't let go of the hood. What a disgrace to the hard working AMERICAN negros. I pity the fool.

    December 11, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  4. José A. Amorós

    So is Gen. Powell saying that minorities are so brainwahse by the Democrats that being a minority equals to being Democrat, and so Republicans need to be more like Democrats and offer their kind of political solutions to minorities if they want to win elections? Does Gen. Powell think that our party political system is just an elementary school "field day" where all you have to do is cheer for either the blue team or the red team or the green team?

    December 11, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. RET

    Powell has never been a true conservative. Remember, the guy has served in both Democratic and Republican Parties. He's never stood up for what are core conservative values, he's basically a chicken hawk. He was embarrased by presenting what the intelligence community said were the facts in Iraq regarding WMD. He doesn't speak for the conservative. As to the comments about conservatives being religious nutcases, if the democrates had a candidate that stood for morality, I'd vote for them. The problem is, none do. When the Obama administartion fails to protect us against one of the worst cases of terrorism, when they lead us into the worst recession in recent history, when the corruption and treason that is the "back bone" of most of the democractic party in Washington is brought to light, the country will be "rushing" to the conservative candidates again. My only hope is there will still be a country worth saving!

    December 11, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Andy

    I don't suppose you noticed that Rush's producer for a really long time is a Black guy as are some guest hosts and a number of his buddies that call in to chum with him.

    Poor old Colin. He must have got his radio stuck on NPR.

    December 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. David

    Excellent! Someone finally from the GOP called out Rush. Didn't ever think it would happen. How wonderful to see this Idiot finally reduced to irrelevance. It was long overdue. Amazing to think that anyone after this election would still think the hateful man has a shred of decency or integrity. Now it's time to call out Sean Hannity, another pathetic human being who makes a fortune off of hate and intolerance.

    December 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. David

    I'm Hispanic. I grew up Liberal, but then Talk Radio turned me into a conservative. Voted for Bush Twice, and then for John McCain. So much for Rush Limbaugh "polarizing" and turning people away from the GOP. Methinks Powell is just another RINO.

    December 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. rick

    You don't have to listen to Rush General Powell. You can turn the radio off if you don't like what you hear.

    December 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  10. bill

    Colin Powell is right about Rush Limbaugh but wrong about conservatives.
    True conservatives need to listen to Glenn Beck. They also need to get back to basics, like reading and following the constitution. Our founding fathers feared gov't and set up a system that works very well until we start voting for the people that will give us the most stuff.
    "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country"-JFK

    December 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  11. gdeg

    I think it was th republicans that were trying to appeal to a "larger audience" that are all getting kicked out. Look at Oklahoma and Texas. States once totally controlled by Democrats and now run by extremely conservative republicans. Running budget surpluses and actually growing their economies. Then look at Michigan and California. Republicans lost the way that Newt showed them in the '90s and they better get it back or we will be voting for a Dem or a socialist.

    December 11, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  12. disgraced cosmonaut

    The only way the Republican party can save itself is by stopping all immigration from the third world. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats and no amount of racial pandering to minorities from the GOP is going to change that. The only way the Republican party will have a future is if America remains a majority White nation. Stop all third world immigration now.

    December 11, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  13. SonoranSteve

    Mr. Powell is either naive or bought off. He should realize that you have to be a gagster from Chicago to win an election in these times....reminds me of a world run by Bella Oxnix!

    December 11, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  14. Terri

    LOL…Republicans showing their true colors today, eh? What, did Rush send you? The flood of Repubs is so telling. They come here like good little soldiers when told.

    December 11, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  15. AKgrandma

    Well now that all you dems (90+%) of the commenters on this site) out there have "invited" all us Republicans to join your party, I'll tell you from our point of view that the way to save the party is NOT to become democrats. We need to return to our conservative roots: resonsible spending, limited government, etc., etc. After 8 years of panty-waists-who-call-themselves-republicans-but–do-the-democrat-walk (and that includes Powell and Bush) what we really need is to take our party back. We thought we got rid of the Clintons and their sleezy ways; well, it looks like they are back and being led by a member of the Chicago "machine." Real Rebulicans have no desire to join ranks with THAT, thank you very much, Mr. Powell!

    December 11, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. IndependentfromTexas.

    I am a conservative and agree with Powell. I use to listen to Rush in late 90s. Since 2002 or so he turned virulent and caustic against minorities and immigrants; He made Christianity the only religion for the U.S. (note – he violates everything Christianity preaches – divorces, viagra, illegal drugs, etc is what he is in involved). He drove me away from Republican party although I selective vote Rep. But, if party leaders continue hate as a strategy they will lose me and lots of folks i know for good.

    December 11, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  17. KWNashVegas

    I don't care what Colin Powell says. Rush is right, the only way to attract true conservatives is to be a true conservative, not what he calls country club, blue blood, so-called conservative types. No matter what, I'll never vote Democrat again for the rest of my life. I did for many years until I got an education and opened my eyes. Kind of like baby puppies, they all are born Democrat until their eyes open.

    God Bless America

    December 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  18. MarkG

    Hey Collin did you ever think that people who don't want to listen have the right to change the station?

    December 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  19. Chris

    Powell is a complete idiot. I hope this party trader crawls back under the rock that he came out from

    December 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  20. Troy LaPlante

    Powell has no clue as to conservative principles and why they win elections. Then again, the same is obvious for John McCain.

    December 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  21. Shali

    Powell was never a Republican anyway. He just pretended to be so he could rise to higher rank.

    He's an opportunist who's decided to retire and can now stop lying.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  22. JimGeorgia

    Who cares what Powel thinks. He's become irrelevent!

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. Doug

    To bad Gen. Powell has lost his way. It appears he's gone Democrat and lost his mind. of course he has enough money to survive the upcoming democratic doom but what about the rest of us who will have to try and survive the Socialist holocaust that is about to befall this nation? Check a little history and see what happened in 1775, some guys in Baas ton said enough is enough!! Humm?? might that happen again?? When we decide enough is enough??

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  24. Anne Nelson

    Yes, Rush Limbaugh will continue to be a link to reality.]!

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Black Conservative

    Since when does Colin Powell speak for all Conservatives? We should be able to choose what and who we listen to. I'm tired of all of these know-it-all Liberals!

    Mr. Powell should be speaking out about Jeremiah Wright. Now that's hate speech!

    Powell should stick to improving himself and leave the rest of us alone.

    There are enough real hatemongers in the Democrat Party who Powell should reform.

    It's the DEMs who don't allow any dissension. If you're a Minority, but disagree with them, then they attack you.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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