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. rcj

    Powell has shown himself to be a liberal democrat. A true republican measures nothing by the number ways a person or group differentiates themselves from others. Republicans consider every individual unique and value every individual the same. No favorites based on a measure of how different you are from some imagined norm. You do not get laws to help you because of your color, race, sex, religious belief, life style choice, disability, mental state, or any other factor.

    The law should treat everyone exactly the same. This is why I cannot stand liberals. They measure everyone and everything by group affiliation and cannot see past stereo types. We are creating a society where different sets of laws apply to different people based solely on the stereotypes everyone claims to hate.

    December 11, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  2. John

    Powell is full of crap!! The reason the GOP lost is because they have already changed more to the center. We need to be CONSERVATIVE!
    The current GOP leaders are not conservative and they are crooks and have no balls. They are wimps! The Dems never backed down even when they were wrong, they never backed down. Good for them!! We get what we voted for. I hope they are successful and as that we go so far left that everyone realizes the democrat is just another word for socialism.

    December 11, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. Ron V

    I actually began praying a few months ago that a revolution in the GOP would begin with kicking Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram and Shawn Hannity to the curb. I consider Rush, Shawn and Laura as traitors to America because they put their own selfish interests and ambitions before the needs of this country. They would rather play mind games and play on the edge of racial division so they can keep their ratings up and their pockets lined with millions of dollars. The only way to keep a popular radio show is to shock listeners into continuing to listen. I think they don't believe half of the trash they sell to the American public. Rush Limbaush, the entertainer, recently signed a huge contract (around 400 million); not becuse he is so intelligent; it is because he appeals to the lower standards of humanity, the way Hitler appealed to the Germans when they needed a hero. The time is long overdue for intelligent conversation and exchange of ideas to begin and for division, racial divisive overtones and selfishness to end. May God continue to bless this great country!!!!

    December 11, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  4. CV

    Powell shows his true colors, and the ObamaBlogogate continues, liberals are so stupid.

    December 11, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. Sunny

    Wow...this man has intestinal fortitude. Rush and Leno look alike Sean Hannity have steered or atleast helped to steer the GOP into a hell hole with empty rhetoric that increasingly appeals to knucke heads. I hope that Rush, Hannity and their followers continue to steadfast to their beliefs and dogma. I hope they never change and that even more knuckle heads follow them. This will ensure that either Hillary or Kennedy win the White House in 2016.

    December 11, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  6. Playin Possum


    December 11, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  7. Ed

    I am sure all you dumocrats have the Republican's best interests at heart when you tell them to abandon Rush. All of the advice is appreciated. We should lieten to you.

    December 11, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. John Galt in Colorado

    WHO IS JOHN GALT? If you cannot answer the question you are part of the problem..............

    December 11, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  9. scarface

    Can we stop listening to liberals masquerading as Republicans is the real question. The reason the part lost is because it tried to position itself in the middle to the left by running a lame bird like McCain. The true conservative base was uninspired and the middle of the roaders did not believe it. It is not complicated because people like Powell are the problem with the Republican party.

    December 11, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  10. alan Goldsmith

    Why all concern for the Republican Party? Right or Wrong let the party
    members make their own decision.

    If you don't like what is going on, go somewhere else. It's all voluntary after all. Let them make their pitch and count the votes. The result will
    be counted, and the winner will be obvious.

    It does not matter what Rush says, or doesn't say. If you hate him O.K.
    He has a right to say it. What does that have to do with you? If enough people don't support him, He'll go the way of Air America.

    If the majority agree, He'll succeed and the votes will follow. Black, Hispanic, or Asian will make no difference. Only the market place of Ideas will be the decider.

    December 11, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  11. obiwarren

    Powell is right! We should be more like Al Franken, Barbra Streisand, Rosie O'Donnell and Larry Flynt – stalwarts of the democrats.
    The "hearts and minds" of African-Americans is the sole property of the democrat party and there's nothing republicans can do to change this.
    Only the minorities themselves can choose not to be used like they have been for decades.

    If the republican party isn't the party of conservatives (like Reagan), then Powell must believe they should try to out-liberal the dems – the party of traitors, atheism and the urban elite.

    December 11, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. DOUG

    No one has to listen to Rush– so what's the big deal? Maybe the fact that about 20 million choose to says something– maybe nobody really gives a hoot what Collin has to say? maybe he's just jealous and just llike Jimmy Carter he will spend the next 20 year trying to be relevant– we will swing back to conservatism in time– all these things have cycles

    December 11, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Richard

    Colin Powell thinks the Republicans should be just like Democrats but act more like adults.
    Colin Powell has no idea what Ron Paul supporters believe. He honestly believes we don't have an empire because all those countries WANT us there. He honestly believes that without the Fed, we would all be poor because we wouldn't have any money.

    December 11, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  14. gibbson girl

    "Understanding the hearts and minds" of those who wanted a home even though they had no way to pay for it is what got our economy in the mess it's in now.

    We don't need bleeding heart granolas as leaders – let those folks grow their own arugala and get out of the leadership business! We need strong, tough leaders who understand how to fight evil and corruption. Leaders who put America first and can tell the rest of the world to go fly a kite if they don't like it. That's what our founding fathers did – that's what generations of brave Americans have died for.

    Understanding the hearts and minds of people doesn't make you the most productive, powerful, safest country in the world with the best medical care and highest standard of living.

    Ronald Reagan "understood" what he needed to understand to take down the first Evil Empire. We need another of his like to take down the one we're fighting now. O-Bambi ain't it.

    December 11, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  15. Living in the People's republic of Arlington VA

    Colin Powell should give up the pretext of being anything other than what he is a leftover who sticks his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing to keep adjusting his position. I guess this was his audition for a new slot on the party and dinner circuit in Washington DC.

    You got to love these these career job seekers!

    December 11, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  16. Rich

    What is facinating to me is that Colin Powell would never have attained his position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State if not for conservatives like Ronald Regan, George Bush 1 and 2. Now that he thinks he is a superstar of wisdom, he turns his back and attacks the hand that fed him. Rish Limbaugh among others knows that the reason the republican Party has fallen on hard time is that we have been nominating RHINO's instead of men and women who believe in the true republican values of smaller fedral government, lower taxes, conservative values fiscally and morally. It is what made the party great and will do so again. Despite Powells beliefe that those in the minority now willsoon be the majority, he does not realize that a majority of those same folks are conservative, religious folks.

    December 11, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. Randall


    You are a complete and utter racist and that is why America chose not to vote with you this go-round. Choosing common sense, reason and dignity over blind adherence to extremist values and delusions of reverse discrimination (a term people like yourself made up) is a pretty sucky lifestyle for sure!

    December 11, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  18. Deb

    You Dems that bash Palin for being unintelligent are Ha-Ha funny. Name me ONE verbal gaff she made. One statement that was factually incorrect.
    There are 57 states? OBAMA
    JOBS= a three letter word? BIDEN

    December 11, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  19. Bee

    Republicans work to the pay the taxes that fund the Democratic entitlement programs?

    December 11, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  20. vince foster

    Don't forget, it's Powells and Schwarzkopfs fault that we had to go back to Iraq. Would 911 have happened if they finished the job? NO!

    December 11, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  21. smitty

    Colin Powell turned traitor for a perceived benefit he will get from the administration that will be in office. He is doing what benefits him – like the majority of politicians. Forget about the morality of Powell – it is number one he is concerned about. The people on this site are accusing the conservatives of the exact same thing they are doing – that is called a HYPOCRITE.
    Also, atheism is a religion – and the left is trying to push that down everyone's throat. The problem is – when you die, you will find out that there really is a God, and then it will be too late. Christians just want to have the freedom to worship God and live their life according to God's will for their lives, and just doing that stirs up so much hatred from the bashers of Christianity. But then, Jesus was crucified – and he rose again and sits in heaven on the right hand of His father God, the job is complete and evil will only prosper for the time God allows it to.

    December 11, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  22. Sue

    I love can he talk some sense into the idiot Republican Senators from the south who would be more than happy to have the Big Three fail to boost their own states at the expense of the Midwest? Does no Republican think of anything outside his own sphere? Or are they still mad about the Civil War?

    December 11, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Stephen

    Gift of the Maji...your comments should be posted over and over. I don't think anyone could say it better. It is what it is.

    As for two types of conservative, or two types of republicans. I think that some are finding that they are actually libertarians. I discovered in this political season that i am actually not a republican but a libertarian.

    December 11, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  24. What's it to ya

    Hey Gift of the Maji, it's fridge not frig Einstein. Maybe you should proofread before you start pointing fingers.
    "You see, being Republican means accepting responsiblity for yourself, and serving the needs of your community YOURSELF."
    That's why Ted Stevens and Don Young took responsibility (that;s right, there's supposed to be an i between the 'b' and the 'l') for their selfish, self serving actions. Oh wait, they didn't. And republicans still voted for them.

    December 11, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. mrunpc

    What a bunch of complete morons! YOU who voted for the ileegal Kenyan Muslim mulatto from the Chicago political sesspool are actually listening to a Democrat operative who has disguised himself for years.

    The ONLY reason Colin Powell is where he is is due to BOTH Bush Presidents. Otherwise, he'd be shining shoes Barack Hussein Obama's shoes on the streets of Chicago.

    Rush Limbaugh has more brains in his excrement than any of you completely ignorant FOOLS who voted the Communist Party of America into office on 11/4/2008.

    December 11, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
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