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. HEAVY


    December 11, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Paul

    Did you find those WMDs yet, Mr. Powell? What you say is not very credible. Sorry.

    You seemed to have had no problem with Limbaugh while he was proppping up the farcical Bush Sr. & Jr. administrations of which you were an integral part. I believe you may be an opportunist in search of a new patron.

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. rjimm

    What a pile of dog droppings. Limbaugh is as supportive of minorities as anyone. The only difference is that he wants them to stand up and be all that they can be rather than living on Uncle Sam's plantation.

    Powell is a joke. I am a Republican, married to a minority, and neither of us see that as incongruous.

    This prissy attempt to feign racism in the Republican party is stupid and Powell should be ashamed. Maybe Obama will now appoint him to an office with the rest of the knee jerk liberals.

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. Mark in WA

    Powell's comment about Limbaugh is downright silly. Limbaugh is not the spokesman for the GOP any more than Keith Olberman is the spokesman for the Democrats. Place the blame where it belongs. The GOP is losing because of their own actions and failures, not because of the words of a controversial commentator. Good grief.

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. rita mcdaniel

    I wish Colin Powell would have had the fortitude to speak to the powers that be when they were the powers that be..... Why now and not then?

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. Amazing

    Yeah! How about that Republican Presidential Primary? Their candidates using race and gender to battle one another, while trying to pit our poor citizens against the rich ones. Oh wait, that was the Democratic Primary.

    And Colin Powell? One word: IRRELEVANT.

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. Newagegop

    Powell is retarded. Full on ignorant. You've got 8000 blacks murdered in year in America. The majority of those victims living in big cities run by democrats. Exactly how do the dems propose saving the lives of their voters?

    Religion is NOT killing blacks in the inner city. Liberalism is killing blacks in the inner city.

    December 11, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. Go Rush

    What part of Rush does Powell not agree with? Be specific. You bloggers out there, what is it other than his arrogance that bothers you. All Rush promotes is self reliance, abstinance, anti-abortion, capitalism, no affirmative action, and smaller government. Personally, I have followed those values and have been successful and prospered even during hard times. I am not rich, but happy. And is that what life is all about

    December 11, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. Conservatives Need to Hold True to Values

    There was a day when Collin Powell was both believable, and respectable.

    The Obama House of Cards is falling — maybe the media and all the henchmen will start to put it together again. If they hurry, most brain dead Americans won't know the difference.

    December 11, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. Just asking

    I am wondering, what differences should there be between Dem and Rep? So the Rep should be more, or exactly like dems just so they win elections.

    December 11, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. Laurens R. Hunt

    As for shouting at the world, there was one overriding factor for why I disliked and distrusted President George Bush so vehemently. He did not know how to make people believe in themselves. Instead he spent more time placating personal fear rather than promoting hope. I have all too often come to learn how many of the more conservative republican leaders respond punitively and judgmentally. They complain relentlessly about all forms of welfare and entitlement spending yet there is limitless funding for excessive penalties pertaining to people in poverty and corporate giveaways that have no return in sight.

    December 11, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. max

    Wow, funny stuff. Everyone is bagging on Rush because HE IS RIGHT! The GOP does not need to move to the left, that is what screwed it up to begin with. Crazy spending and pandering to the single-digit-approval-rating, do-nothing Congress is what killed the party. Remember, the Democrats have been in control for two years (just about when things started crapping out). Liberal ideas only function when they are FORCED on people...hence Cali trying to overturn the prop 8 vote...gotta be forced on people. Colin Powel is the one ruining the GOP.

    December 11, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  13. Tom

    I say we need to kick the moderates like Powell out and let them be what they want to be "A Democrat". Rush is right Powell voted for Obama becouse he is black, period!

    December 11, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. ted

    Rush is constantly appealing to our BETTER natures, encouraging people, and having reasonable discussions with liberals and conservatives alike.

    The worst thing Rush does is show the libs for who they really are by turning over their cozy rocks, deconstructing their propaganda, and nailing their hypocrisy.

    Fascinating that "truth" is the new measure of "hate" How do we know it to be truth? Imagine the sh**storm if there was a lie the libs could refute!

    December 11, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  15. Kilroy

    Its time for the Libertarian in each of us to break out of the two-party cocoon.

    Who among us does not want the government to be fiscally responsible, socially tolerant, and constitutionally adherent?

    Who among us does not want the chance to succeed by our own merits, to enjoy the fruits of our OWN labor, and live our lives lawfully and without interference?

    The intolerant social conservatives have taken over the Republican party. It is the moderate thinkers with conservative values that must surely win the day if the country is to survive and prosper once again.

    Fiscal liberalism (socialism) is a plague. Central planning is both dysfunctional and immoral, no matter how altruistic the aim. Capitalism is the greatest system ever devised for the creation (not distibution) of individual and national wealth. But capitalism cannot survive if companies are not allowed to fail.

    The fiscal conservatives (like Romney) make MUCH more sense in the current economic climate, and it is this path that the "conservative" movement must travel.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  16. Santosh

    Thank God there are people with enough guts to speak the truth like Colin Powell did. As a democrat, I'm willing to listen to different opinions. There are things I respect about the Republican platform, like lowering taxes, which the current administration has betrayed.
    But, in general, I think their party's coalition is breaking apart because I've always believed it's based on an artificial alliance.
    The Christian right seems to be willing to ignore science, economic disparity, and separation of Church and state to move their own agenda of being pro life... I respect that, but it's time we look at more than one issue and try to come to a consensus on the conservative agenda. does it really matter whether gays marry?
    otherwise, the NRA crowd, for the life of me, I can't understand the hardcore principles. No one is arguing against the right to bear arms, but do you really need a semi-automatic weapon to hunt? Don't we want a safer country?
    To me, this argument of to each his own and be independent is great, but true capitalism has its problems in the sense that people are left out, hoping, praying for those of us better off to help them out. During these last 8 yrs, without oversight, so many things have gone in the wrong direction, especially in the realm of environmental safety. Companies and even individuals don't always look out for the little guy. while I agree we need an efficient government, government has its place in terms of infrastructure, education, defense, preventing catastrophes like Katrina. we should all agree on that.
    I cannot understand how people who make less seem to think the Republican tax policies of late benefit them... Do you think you're going to get rich now? People like Joe the Plumber just sound dumb – you're own wallet's taking a hit, but you don't want anyone else getting your money, forget that you might benefit as well... There's a point there, but to me most people are getting manipulated by their fear of the government, science, and the world in general.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  17. Jumpboots187thPIR

    We must start to listenen to people of color? About what? When we
    came here from the world over be it "Europe,Asia-What did we do?
    We when to work doing anything to better our selves. This has been
    lost in most part because of the give aways by our government and
    it's welfare system. And today it's call BAILOUT!!!!!GIVE,GIVE make
    it easy give out taxpayers money away:" don't make hard for them, just
    scew ye old taxpayers. You have it wrong Gen. Have them try hard work it might just work.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  18. Proud Liberal

    Rush, Sean, Savage – they're the reason the Republicans lost. McCain and Palin sounded just like them.

    Rush Sean, Savage, etc. all think that their 1st Amendment rights are going to be taken away. They are wrong. We want them to go on talking so they'll lose the next few elections too.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  19. Georgia Gal

    Amen! Now if the Republicans would only listen and do what he suggested, but for some reason I have a feeling that they won't.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. Linda Hoyt

    Colin Powell seems like a great, wise man, doesn't he? But, the fact is, that he was a miserable boss! The State department, under him, was a mess. He was a primadona, who treated those who worked for him, like servants.

    So, I don't think he is qualified to be shaking his fingers at anyone! Clean up your own house first Mr. Powell! Start making a round of calls to apologise.

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  21. Matias eisenhauer

    There is so much to say and so little time. We will have Obama prove our point, the conservative point that is. Rush haters, you are afraid of him and rightfully so. He infringes on your apologistic claims of public servitude that you claim your reps possess. Come on peoples. They are in it for themselves. So apparant, but you are fed the media BS day in and day out that you can't tell anymore the differance between the media mouth and the bunghole they talk from. Fresh example on my mind. Did you see how they twisted Reverend Wrights claims that we bombed Japan on Dec 7 when that was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Instead of making him sound like the dummy he is, they changed it to make his character seem less moronic because he is a liberal, a flaming liberal at that. If he was conservative, wow what an outcry we would hear from the media of the idiocy of his statement. We need to stop listening to Rush! Psh, you guys need to stop listening to media. Two way street and their is only one right direction. No hope for the conservative cause? We might be small in numbers, but like our fore fathers who were outnumbered by the English, we will fight our battles and win the war and if we are right about Obama, how much easier will it be for us in 2012.

    December 11, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  22. defendinrush

    Hey Jerry Kurl,
    I wonder how many of the 58 states Barack Obama can pick out on the map.

    Jerry Kurl December 11th, 2008 9:00 pm ET

    The GOP is so over. Who cares what they say anymore? They did all the work digging their own political grave. You don't nominate a Sarah Palin (who can barely pick out the lower 48 on a map) when you've had 8 years of Bush the Dummy. You betcha!

    December 11, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  23. madgeowens

    We should not listen to Colin Powell, he has no back bone or spine! He should just shut up and keep doing his YMCA dance like the loser he is. Right on Rushbo Baby!nDittoes.......

    December 11, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  24. Karen

    The so-called Fairness Doctrine is nothing more thana veiled attempt to limit free speech by getting rid of one of the few people on the right; namely Rush. We are quickly losing our democracy. Look at the bias of the mainstream media. They and their Democratic pals want us to hear only one side.
    This Fairness Doctrine is nothing more than an attempt to limit diversity of thought.

    December 11, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  25. jmoore

    Powell is a turn coat! With all the censorship in the media, it's refreshing to hear another side by someone who is well informed! Powell and his cohorts only wish the people of this country remain in the dark and uninformed. I'm so disgusted with the likes of that man! I am thinking expletives!

    December 11, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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