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. Tom-san

    God, you are ALL idiots. Read Atlas Shrugged. Read "Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand", by Dr. Leonard Peikoff. Educate yourselves. Liberals and Conservatives are just two sides of the same false coin, and all you can do is argue with each other. And you are both so egregiously ignorant.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  2. Don

    Powell is irrelevant. Rush is not. The conservative movement will return in 2012 in a big way. we finally got rid of the on the fencers. Colin powel has no backbone, is not conservative and should just become a democrat. He talking but nobody is listening!

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Seaworthy

    I would much prefer to stand for principles than moral equivalencies, and evolving paradigms. The problem with "progressives" is that their foundation is built on sand. No thanks, I'll go down with the ship.
    The blue states can unite under a new flag and call themselves "The United States of Zimbabwe". Old Robert Mugabe did a bang up job of redistributing the wealth.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  4. Winston III

    Where the hell is Powell coming from? I know far too many Blacks, Browns, & Yellows that are conservative and proud Republicans. Limbaugh is a fine voice and a great contribution to this country. I may not necessarily agree with everything he says but I still respect him. Powell is jusst another example of what so many politicans always do, put everything in boxes to explain their crazy view. The public is much smarter than that!

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  5. redbear

    Maji, you said it all!!!!! Conservatism was not on the playing field this election. A true conservative would have won by a landslide. The FOO's (friends of Obama), are in for a rude awakening sooner rather than later. My two main worries are the court will be moved far to the left, and the best health care system in the world may be soon ran by the same gang that gave us "bailout bingo"! I say duck and cover America. Cover your wallet that is.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  6. Grego

    So what is it about being a conservative (ie, Republican) that doesn't appeal to minorities? If you mean pandering and racebating the democrats do to each ethnic group, the I think I'll stay a conservative.

    My answer: just wait a year or two for the country to realize what they've done and it will be 1994 all over again.

    December 11, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. Frank Algeciras

    Incredible what I am hearing from Powell, he swore to protect the
    constitution of the United States as a soldier. Does Powell know what the 1st amendment says. He wants to shut down talk radio?
    His comments about Limbaugh seem to say so. Amongst screw ups
    by bush he should never have had Powell as Secretary of State.

    Frank Algeciras

    December 11, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. V

    Where is all the Repubican outrage??? who will stand up for the three things that made America great- God, Guns and Guts.

    Its time we called a spade a spade, Powell, and W are both liberals and should be thrown out of the party. Allowing too may liberals in is what cost us the election...

    God in this Christmas season- please let the republican circular firing squad continue continue thru the new year!

    December 11, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. David

    Critics of Rush Limbaugh never give specific examples, just sweeping generalizations. It never fails. So it's honestly impossible to know what they're talking about. Rush seems just fine to me.

    December 11, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  10. MJH

    Rush Limbaugh appeals to the higher quality of individuals regardless of their race, color, creed, or anything else. When people are able to excel and governments get out of their way, the sky is the limit. But when we reduce people to stereotypes and minority groups we create victims and tell them they can't excel or succeed without government.

    Rush is right and those who listen know that to be true. Powell doesn't listen, otherwise he wouldn't have said such a baseless thing.


    December 11, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  11. Korla Pundit

    Yes, blast the administration and party that appointed the first TWO black Secretaries of State. This weakling's problem as SoS was that he wasn't "yelling at the world" nearly enough. He let the world walk all over us, calling us immoral baby murderers and torturers, while they were all on Saddam's payroll. He has no spine, and he has no Republican or conservative principles. If he did, please name one.

    I would say he likes Obama because of race only, but it's not true. He also likes the notion of tokenism, since that helped him greatly in his rise to the top at the Pentagon. He certainly is no Petraeus, and helped end the first Gulf War so indecisively that we needed the second one that he was still too wishy washy to take seriously.

    I'll tell you what the GOP needs to do. It needs to jettison mealy mouthed backstabbers like Colin Powell. It needs to forget the stupid fantasy of "reaching across the aisle." It needs to refind its principles and STAND BY THEM, GODDAMMIT!

    Force out the RINOs, and give the majority of Americans, who would vote for Reagan's hat if it came up for election, somebody they could believe would fight for them against the decay of this country's spirit.

    Powell likes to taunt that the "majority" will soon be the "minority." That kind of threat is all the more reason people need to wake up and stop the floodgates of illegal immigration, and never give citizenship to criminal foreigners.

    December 11, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  12. conservativewilderness

    What Powell is too self-absorbed (hence his opportunistic flight to Obama at the last minute) to understand, is that real conservatives (not fallen "Republicrats" like himself) are not interested in abandoning conservatism, are not interested in begomming Democrats... we'll leave that up to failures like Mr. Powell, and any other phoney baloney Republicrat who wants to join him. We'll stick with Rush Limbaugh, Ronald Reagan and real conservative values.

    Thank you.

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. Vancouver, BC, Canada

    Chuck: Typical American uninformed redneck comment! We have national health care so no one goes without like 45 million of your people which is 1 and half times the population of my country, we defend and honor people's rights, our pensions are protected and we don't have to wear someone else's flag pin when we travel.

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  14. rebeckah

    Magi your statement is hilarious! Do you like the roads you drive, the parks you visit, the bridges you cross? All of these are paid with tax dollars. After the last 8 years the national debt has tripled. What's your solution to solving the debt crisis, other than continuing to borrow money from China? So you gave 5k BFD! SO you donated your time lots of us do. I am so tired of the blame game, liberal, conservative who cares! Every person elected in the last 20 years have had their stain on what is happening now, if we do not quit judging each other and blaming each other,both republican and democrat, then all of us lose no matter who your party affiliation is. Drop the labels, take religion out of politics, and let people live their lives according to how they believe, not how you think they should believe!

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  15. Tracy

    Isn't Rush the number one radio talk show in America?

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  16. NotBuyingIt

    Powell is full of it. A Rhino. Stay in the Democrat Party, where you belong.

    Oh, and obviously most of the comments on this blog are from Liberals.

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  17. Susan

    Wow, sure hit some nerves, didnt he? White right is afraid of diversity.

    December 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  18. Jim B,

    If the Republican party is going to disappear unless they change their ideology, than why are you liberals offering advice? No one believes that you liberals are sincere. Everyone who reads these posts knows that conservatism is a viable ideology and everyone who reads these post knows that Rush Limbaugh is effective. There would be no reason to hate Rush so much if he was ineffective.

    Whether you agree with Rush, or hate him, you cannot deny that he generates more money than any other radio host. So please, stop offering "advice". If Rush bothers you, then don't listen to your radio.

    Stop these pathetic attempts to convince ignorant people that your ideology is correct by smearing the other party and lying to yourselves.

    December 11, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  19. RalphJ

    Enough from the affirmative action choir. This country was build upon hard work and values by the angry white men. The "future majority" that Powell alludes to either left disfunctional corrupted government countries or are the product of preferencial programs and will not have the ability to lead the world by example. In the future we will see the populace elect unqualified principleless leaders who promise government handouts to all who ask. Possibly even a slick fast talking Harvard educated lawyer who is always just one step away from a shady deal and nefarious people.

    December 11, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  20. dean

    Keep it up Republicans! Purifying the party of those pesky "moderates" and the 280 million that DON'T listen to Rush sounds like a sure-fire model for success. Good luck to you all in 2010 and beyond.

    If Palin gets the nomination in 2012, I don't think 48-50 states is out of the question.

    December 11, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  21. dude111

    Hey "Right One" – I love how the South is full of "uneducated Rednecks" according to you.

    Somehow funny its the incompetent northern cities of Detroit, Cleveland, etc. are dependent on the federal govt to bail out their auto industry.

    Ever wonder why successful auto companies like Mercedes, Nissan, and Honda build their plants in states like Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi?

    You might want to revisit your definition of "uneducated", in the meantime, we'll remain uneducated and "employed" and you can remain "educated" and jobless. Fool.

    December 11, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  22. Dennis from Memphis

    I think Colin Powell's remarks are typical of the Northeastern liberal Republican. He is a RINO,[Republican in name only]. Most Americans are conservative but have been brainwashed by the Dem lib media into thinking conservatism is mean spirited. A conservative is for lower taxes, pro life, a strong military and believes in the strength and greatness of the U.S.A. Dems want high taxes,unfettered abortion, and a central government that controls every aspect of an individuals life. I think it is funny that our great Dem lib leaders are afraid of a talk radio host that speaks his mind and happens to have an audience. What? Don't they believe in Free Speech? Of course not they are Dem Libs.

    December 11, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  23. Obama jacked my 401k

    yeah right Colin we all should be like the socialists. He is implying the liberal facists and the rest of the world deserve better.Liberalism has failed, and the reason we shout at the world is because they are no better than children. Typical socialist, it dont matter whats right or wrong, as long as we work together.Id rather be right and lead instead of wrong and ask the opinions of 3rd world dictators and week willed Euro-trash.But the real reason he said this is because he is blacks and all blacks stick together in ignorance.He is brown-nosing for a job

    December 11, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  24. Pkpost

    LOL, this kind of commentary coming from the king of affirmative action babies is laughable. Powell, stick to what you do best....uh....just what is that, exactly?

    December 11, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  25. John Lubeck

    The only conservative values that I can see that Colin Powell subscribes to are deceitfulness, corruption and ignorance. These seem to be the prime tenants of the GOP and probably always have been.

    December 11, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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