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. HMS

    Collin Powell is a RINO. A man who voted for Barrack Obama simply because he was scorned by the Bush Administration when he gave advice not to invade Iraq. This had very little to do with Obama as a person, or character for that matter.
    As for Rush being the problem with the party....thats idiotic!
    He is the solution.
    We already tried that "reaching across the isle crap" with the milktoast candidate we ran this year named John McCain.
    Didnt work too well now did it?
    Forget all the angry posts on this site, or posts from liberals trying to give advice on how to be conservative...which is laughable at best...
    The majority of America is still conservative to a certain degree.
    We just need some LEADERSHIP that is actually conservative to apeal to it.
    Look how wild people went over Sarah Palin.
    Look back at how Reagan beat Carter in one of the biggest landslides in political history.
    They both appealed to people because their IDEAS were better then the opposition.
    Not because they "reached across the aisle at all".
    I respect Colin Powell's service to this nation...
    But he has no idea how wrong he is by attacking Rush Limbaugh...
    or the conservative movement simply because the libs won a few of late.
    Its as simple as that.

    December 11, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. cincinnatus

    Collin Powell, a man of questionable allegiance, never got it and never will. The republic stands or falls on its principles. Those who worship groups and identify with groups can pack their bags.

    December 11, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  3. SocialismNow

    The Republican Party is dead! There is nothing it can do to make a comeback from death.

    Socialism is the only way! We need to take the guns from the right today. Either get on the bus or get out of the United Socialist States of America! It is our turn now!

    December 11, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  4. Peter (CA)

    Wow, you right wingers really need to get a hold of yourselves. Look at what your colleagues on this blog are saying:

    Rich @7:18 is probably a racist. More right wingers than I can count are blaming everything wrong in this country on the "liberals" and the "Democrats" and the rest of them are revising history by blaming the left for all of the racial problems in this country.
    CNN just does not have the space to refute all of it. So, let's keep it simple. The Democrats have made lots of mistakes in the name of "equality" and not leaving anyone without a life jacket. For me, this is preferable than the right wing mantra of unfettered capitalism and get all you can at whatever cost even if it bankrupts the country in the process.
    The Democrats have some culpability for our problems but the Republicans have at least as much if not more. And yes, they have practiced the policies of divisiveness from the 60's through the Southern strategy days starting in the 70's through Reagan-era crucifixion of "liberals" in the 80's, the racial divisiveness of the Willie Horton-era of the 90's through the Rovian slime of the last 8 years. Democrats have Governor Rod and Rep. Jefferson. The Republicans have Ted Stevens, Vic Fosetta, and the last 8 years.
    So the question is: are we all going to comprise and fix the mess we are in or are the right wingers going to pout for the next 8 years and stop all change?

    December 11, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. Shane

    Hey – Republicans did stop listening to Rush Limbaugh – we elected John McCain to represent us! And look what happened!

    You fools!

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. chad3337

    Hmmm, wonder what position Powell is lobbying to get?

    B/t/w, excuse me, but WHO played the race card in the election? it's widely understood that Obama played the race card over, and over, and over again.

    I believe it was John McCain who demonstrated the courage of his conviction and kept race out of the election by refusing to invoke Reverend Wright. What morally courageous conviction has the President-elect ever demonstrated? He may be from the most politically corrupt city and state in the nation? Did we ever hear him, even once, condemn the political culture of Illinois.

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. GalileoRad

    Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, and their fellow travellers called moderate and liberal Americans Communist, Marxist, Stalinist, and Socialist. They convinced fools to barricade themselves against empirical science by calling global warming a politically motivated hoax. They called the Democratic candidate "Messiah" while at least one of them confused his own talent with the movement of God in the universe. They sold us a hardline pitch for capitalism at all costs, and, sure enough, we are paying all costs!

    What price do they pay for their lies? Do you prosecute? Do you force them to listen to recordings of themselves at high volume until they break? Or do you "let them down easy" and restore fairness in this land of the free?

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Powell is a Dinosaur

    Wow! A taped interview...on Sunday...on CNN...with freaking Colon Powell, no less.

    Everyone, set your TIVO for this snore-fest.

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  9. Robert GA

    Colin Powell lost all credibility saying hes rebublican and then endorsing the most liberal candidate in the entire senate for President. So I have to say, shut up Colin, youre a Democrat now! Its you and other liberal Republicans like John McCain and Free Spending Bush that got us in the mess we are in! Rush is the answer for our party and I wish Newt would come back and we could sweep back through with a contract with America again but this time lets sweep in a whole bunch of Sarah Palins who will not fall in love with Power and forget their conservitive roots! Rush keep leading and I want that the Colin Powells and George Bushs and the John McCains (wolves in sheeps clothing) of our party will go away and fiscally responsible conservitive Republicans will take thier place!!!

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  10. J Clivas

    Powell threw away his credibility as a Republican when he endorsed

    December 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  11. GTR81

    So, going by most of the posts here that I've read, Conservative, and dare I say it, Conservative Christian are monikers now have the same meaning as the title Jew did to the vast majority of Germans not too long ago. The stark raving rabid hatred in these posts is only lacking in violent manifestations to the degree that at this moment in time, you would still go to jail for murdering (crucifying) the likes of me. Alas, alas, as has been promised before this world was formed, you will have your moment to wage war against us and purge us from your utopian society (you would all make Adolf proud as would Mr. Powell and Mr. Obama) us as you're obviously aching to do, but mark these words, your victory in the battle is your defeat in the war.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  12. Mark

    Drop dead! We need an army of conservative street fighters! Let's roll!

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  13. The Kat

    My God! Liberals are some of the most disillusioned and hateful people on the planet! But I guess worshipping Democrats like the Obamessiah and Hitlery will do that to a person. Colin Powell is dead wrong! The problem with the Republican party is that it is infiltrated with too many RINOs (like Powell & McCain). If Condoleeza Rice had run for President, she would have won the primary in a heart beat. Republicans love her. She is incredibly smart, a great leader and competent under extreme pressure. And for all you liberals who flunked history ... the Republican Party was created to END SLAVERY! The great thing about conservative politics is that it benefits EVERYONE regardless of your income, race, age or color. As for George W. Bush ... his IQ is higher than John Kerry's. Stick that in your hookah and smoke it.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. Jeff

    "Gift of the Maji" – DUDE! THAT WAS AWESOME!!!

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  15. Walnut Cove Conservative

    Rush Limbaugh is one of the few bright spots, other than Gov. Palin, within the conservative movement today. The Republicans did not win the white house because we nominated a person just like Powell is describing.

    If conservatives want to win elections they need to act like conservatives, not liberals dressed like the GOP.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. Mark

    All you have to do is read the comments by the rightwing nutbags and you can see just how correct Powell is!

    I wonder if any of the nutbags can turn hate radio off for one month?

    I doubt it, they aren't strong enough.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. Jack

    Obama was only elected because the voters are sick of Bush. Four years from now, the pendulum will swing again. I believe most Obama voters had no idea what they were voting for, they just knew what they were voting against (thanks to the media).

    Those that say conservatism is dead miss the fact that 57 million people voted Republican.

    And the only reason we conservatives have to consider appealing to the minorities is because we allowed the liberals to keep our nation's borders wide open for so many years to help grow their own political interests.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  18. My Name is Brak

    You should all be downright ASHAMED of yourselves. I have never SEEN so much negative CRAP smeared across my screen. Liberals are dumb, Republicans hate America, blah, blah , blah...

    A person is not defined by one single thought, opinion, party affiliation. It's a part of our make up, but not the one thing that makes us who we are, so making blanket statements about people on either side is just plain ignorant.

    Stop the juvenile name calling and try to work together to get something done for a change.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  19. ref

    I grow weary of these snobs, like Powell these days, who think that my party or anyone's party should fall into line with the thinking of a majority or of a consensus.

    Political leadership, conservative or otherwise, must fall into line with a platform of ideals that are based on fundamental, moral values. Today's McCains and Spectors and Powells try to include everyone into this "big tent" where we can all hold hands and sing Kumbayah.

    They have a name for a bunch of actors that meet under a big tent and fool the crowd with freaks and tricks and sleights of hand. It's called a circus. America does not need a circus. We need leadership and a decisive and limited government.

    It seems that his years with the State Department destroyed Powell's better abilities. I wonder how effective Mr. Powell would have been as head of the Joint Chiefs if he had tried this big tent back then.

    I served under Powell in the 1980's. Way, way, way under Powell! I was proud to carry a rifle under the command of leaders like Reagan and Powell and LTC Abrams. Their leadership was decisive and clear from the top to the bottom. Walk softly and carry the United States Armed Forces. Lower taxes and exponentially multiply tax revenue. Be a great friend, be a relentless enemy.

    I miss Ronald Reagan.

    December 11, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  20. gl, Pittsburgh

    Cecil B Home – What plannet do you live on. What most of the American People want is for the Republicans to stop their racist and thinking they are the only real American and everybody else is not. You go figure or are you to far to the right to understand.

    December 11, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  21. Mike

    I am a proud Reagen Conservative, angry and my party for not having convictions for those principles that make me a conservative. I am for cutting taxes, less government spending, less beuracracy, and less government control. I am for a strong military defense, and believe that every life is precious, and believe strongly in State Rights. I believe, all men and women are created equal and that affirmitive action is the anti-thesis of that, and is reverse discrimation. I am against it. I believe heterosexuals and homo sexuals should be able to live in a society that does not judge them or disparage them because of their sexuallity, however, I believe that marriage should only be between a man and woman, because morally it is right, and if the USA is to lose the basic moral fundamentals, then we will destroy ourselves. (BTW, many democrats think this way, since in CA the liberal cap of america, they voted down the gay marriage amendment). This in a nutshell is what I believe, and so do many other Americans. John Mccain was affraid to talk to this way, and thats why he lost, because many who think like I do stayed home.....When the Republican Party starts acting like real conservatives, your democrat party will cease to exist. Untill that time, Colin Powell why don't you just go and fly a kite. The sorriest mistake the Republican party made was to ever give you any credence. You are an SOB, a disgrace, and a coward. The same party you hate, is the same party that gave you a life....

    December 11, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  22. Bob Moss

    Powell is a republican? Odd then that he would vote for the most leftist senator in congress. More likely Powell voted for his own skin color.

    December 11, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. Lrod

    Very well expressed!
    Somebody had to say it! The reality is that we need to work towards the creation of harmony amongst all people, here in this, STILL the greatest nation on earth where reason prevails.
    Fredom of expression.
    Food for thought!

    God Bless America!

    December 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  24. toasted turbins

    Powell is a typical sellout homey. I thought he was different but he reverted to his genetc inferiority of liberalism. He is an embarrasment to evolved conservative black Americans.
    Homos are inferior.
    Liberals are inferior.
    Conservatism is the mathamatical superiority of evolution.

    All other should be illiminated for the good of mankind. I mean without God and a separate value for inferior life why let them exist. If I agree that there is no God they must be removed to make way for the fitest.

    December 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. RushIsRught

    Powell is a punk. Rush is right about him.

    December 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
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