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. Pippen

    Did he have a power point presentation containing "proof" that Rush Limbaugh has WMDs?

    December 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  2. Jake

    Powell left me a long time ago. I pay NO attention to him any longer. He has turned radical leftist and no friend of me OR my family. Go away powell. Bammie is lying in Chicago along with the rest of the Chicago gangsters.

    December 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. dittohead with forty names

    Lets finish off Rush with the Fairness Doctrine.

    December 11, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Sid the Ratman

    I would suggest that Mr Powell change radio stations if he doesn't care for Rush. I would much rather listen to Rush than Obama's former pastor rambling on about GDing America.

    December 11, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. Don Ronald

    When the white majority disappears, America disappears with it.

    Southern California and other parts of the country occupied by the Mexican Invasion are no longer even recognizably American. They are Mexican, third world slums where white people cannot even travel without risk of physical violence. The Mexican invasion involves the ethnic cleansing of Americans and the transformation of American cities into filthy stinking third world slums with all of the political corruption, filth, crime and cultural dysfunctionalism that characterizes Mexico and other third world hell holes.

    Mexicans have had their own country for 500 years and the only way they can achieve a better life is to run away from their own land, invade white neighborhoods, destroy white public schools, bankrupt white hospitals, and suck up enormous amounts of tax dollars for the huge amount of public services they consume. When whites are gone, they will sink back into third world stagnation.

    December 11, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. j kline


    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. littlerobbie

    By backing Obama, Colin Powell slapped the faces of the 911 Pentagon victims. William Ayers just was not as proficient as Mohammad Atta, and I guess Powell was happy to overlook his behavior.
    Foolishly, I always hoped he would man up and get beyond race, but we see that didn't happen.
    He did, however, find the guts to create a thinly veiled racial threat to the pending white minority.
    Rush Limbaugh exhorts every individual to realize their positive potential, and that message transcends race to those willing to listen.
    By the way, Colin, where were you while Al Quida was training 30000 killers?

    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. RinDland

    Sorry Powell and the fellow simpletons here. I have an opinion that is similar to Limbaugh's -live with it. I tolerate yours. That's what make America great.

    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Sunny

    If you liberal Democrats and pseudo-republicans were honestly against polarization in this country then you would have refrained from your prejudiced hate-talk and lies against President George W. Bush for the past 8 years. If you were as rational as you claim to be then you would have been honest enough to listen to the President's speeches impartially and pay attention to the facts in order to avoid swallowing the lies of his enemies in the news and entertainment industry. If you were open-minded you would have recognized his refusal to defend himself against the continual attacks and hate-mongering for his two terms in office. He has spoken graciously to and about those who have made themselves his enemies and insulted him at home and abroad - including former Presidents, Carter & Clinton - they have shown their true colors, as has Gen. Powell.

    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  10. rightman

    We get crap and lies for news from everyone accept Rush Limbaugh.

    Limbaugh has the correct analysis of the situation and good insight for Conservatives.

    Moderates like Powell are the biggest problem Republicans have right now. They want to "get along" and "compromise" until every freedom is gone.

    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  11. John Ryder

    This is truly pathetic. Liberals are so hate filled and blinded by ambition to even enjoy their victory. You forget that Rush is on the radio and if you do not like what he says you change the station. I did when he was indicted and never went back. Censorship is a slippery slope and what ever goes around comes around.
    I lost my faith in the good general when he called off the troops in Iraq because it would have been a blood bath on the highway of death. War is a terrible and should be avoided but a toothless UN resolution is even worse because it emboldens dictators and terrorism.
    The shame of it all is that the dems have already started to screw it up even before the inauguration. I stated this in prior posts and even I did not think it would come so quick.
    Power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    December 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. midwest mark

    Powell is no more republican than Obama. He's lost all conservative credibility when he supported that socialist. It is unfortunate that Limbaugh's personality should get in the way of his basic message. Most people get it instinctively. Those who don't have made a conscious decision to sell out to their own selfishness – i.e. "the government owes me a living because I voted for the guy who will give it to me". In that group you will find the Democrat interest groups like welfare leaches, labor union robots, teacher union robots, and similar ilk. Fortunately, Powell is fairly harmless now. When his balloon of hot air is spent, he will will simply sputter off limply to some obscure corner of history.

    December 11, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  13. TT

    "Inclusive"...a wonderful thought. Problem is, we in the politically correct U.S. and the idiots we elect, allow for separatism. Take a little drive through parts of Los Angeles and you better speak Spanish, cause if you speak English, nobody in the neighborhood will understand a word you say....businesses, signes, etc...all in Spanish......Perhaps the movie Spanglish showed it best when the little girl came to California from Mexico, turned a corner and said it was just like being home.....problem is, that the movie aside, we can't afford to denigrate our "homes" into Mexico...although the start of the the Obamessiah Presidency is already beginning to look like Mexican politics....crooks.....crooks......crooks......way to go Dems.
    Stop the pandering Powell....time to start the "inclusion"......if you don't read English....learn (there are actaully people who have lived her for 20-30 years and still don't speak English, incredible) more government publications of any type in any other language then English. Want to sue in the for your own interpreter..... want to be a it right and LEARN THE LANGUAGE. How about a few words on the subject Mr.Powell?

    December 11, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  14. Dave

    What a parrot! He could at least put this tired old stereotype of Republicans in his own words rather than reading it verbatum from the Democratic party's playbook. I don't know what's worse; him reciting that line or the people who think it was brilliant!
    If minorities want to know how liberals will help them they only need to observe what happened when Affirmative Action in lending was forced on the banking industry. Initially housing prices went through the roof and later dreams of homeownership were dashed as foundations of good intentions crumbled and again paved the way to hell for far too many Americans. God help them.
    General Powell is one of our military heroes and we should honor him for that but earnestly question his judgement on politics.

    December 11, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  15. Forget Powell

    Colin Powell is the most overrated political personage in the last thirty years. If you read the comments above, what is he talking about? Vague generalities, like "polarization". Blaming the Republicans for Rush Limbaugh.

    Do you know why Colin Powell has never made a real run for elected office? Because he has nothing to say. He really has no plan. He just walks around looking dignified, saying nothing of substance, and people think he's important. I appreciate his service to his country, but that's it.

    December 11, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. TexasLady

    Rush Limbaugh is more positive than any of the other media. I like listening to someone who provides some hope. Also, he can almost always back up his stories and that sort of credibility is what makes me trust him. There's a lot to be said for that when you consider some other media outlets. Colin Powell needs to shut his yap.

    December 11, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  17. Left Behind

    As a conservative, the Republican party has left me behind. After this election I officially stopped considering myself a Republican.

    Republican party elites, go ahead and move to the left. You lose my monetary support as well as my votes.

    Rush Limbaugh is not the spokesman for the Republican party, he's a spokesman for the conservative movement. Just a guy on the radio. What would Powell do? Try to get Rush kicked off the air?

    There's nothing stopping the Republicans from coming up with their own Republican spokesperson. Who will it be? Colin Powell? Sounds to me someone is rationalizing flawed personal actions...

    December 11, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. TJ

    Limbaugh became irrelevant when he ignored Ron Paul.

    December 11, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  19. HeatherK

    This Republican isn't interested in what Powell has to say. The media was most biased this election cycle and he's complaining about "Republican shouting"? Yeah, whatever.

    December 11, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  20. PK

    Listening (reading, whatever) to all you morons scares the hell out me. Anyone who thinks anything is going to CHANGE is a moron. Anyone who puts so much faith in any politician is a moron. Anyone who thinks one politic party has the moral high ground is a moron. Believe it or not our generation didn't invent this crap. It's been going on for thousands of years. The greatness of America and our democracy is that we get to vent at the election booth instead of killing each other OR being controlled by one single party or individual who gets to decide everything.
    Anyone who thinks that there's something new and earth shattering going on now is a moron. It's politics as usual and people are jockeying for position to reap some rewards, or they're trying to reabilitate their reputations (Powell) to get on someones good they can reap some rewards and get invited to all the good parties.
    If you put all your faith and hope in a mere mortal you are in for a hard fall. Guess that's why someone invented religion.

    December 11, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  21. Independent Fred

    Gift of the Maji, that was a Brilliant attempt at deflection & hyperbole.

    Granted the charges you leveled at Democrats are correct, you( of course) you whistled past the obvious transgressions of you're beloved GOP....

    There are at LEAST 3 more GOP screw ups to every Demora flop.

    While Democrats are predictably flowery, dumb, spineless and sickly they're far, FAR less dangerous than you're beloved racist, greedy GOP.

    But hey nice try...

    December 11, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  22. mr.vaugan

    What this country needs is a leader. Someone who strives to make us better. Stay out of our pockets and our bedrooms. Let the church take care of the widow and the poor and the gov't take care of defending this country. You have problems when the two get confused. If you truly want separation of church and state, then don't do what the church should be doing. If you want separation of church and state, then don't do what the gov't should be doing. Since when can a gov't run a car company. Give me a break. How much do you think a car will cost when they pay 5000.00 for a hammer? There is not a nickel difference between any politician now a days. Wake up America we are becoming lost and we don't even know it.

    December 11, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  23. FATBOY


    December 11, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  24. doug

    The same comments were made by democrats in 1992 and see what happened. Less government, lower taxes for all and yes that means the rich. What America will follow is accountability and that doesn't include bailing out companies that are running poorly. I like Powell but minorities have nothing to do with it. People will follow leaders who lead and make their lives better. McCain was a joke for us conservatives and a big reason we did not show up at the polls. I guess we will see what happens in 2010.

    December 11, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. Bobby

    A guy that has NO principles telling me that I can't think for myself. Go back to the nursing home and be the little racist you've always been. It is you that voted for the Marxist only because he was black.

    December 11, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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