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. Joe Berson

    Hos sad that the most popular person in the United States decided not to run for President a number of years ago . Had that history-making decision been in the affirmative we would then have had the first African-American replacing the most inartful one now bring thankfully the most destructive presidential term in our history. Imagine not having to relive the horrors of Iraq which a dysfunctional carpet bagger from Connecticut caused just to attempt to rid himself of the feeling of inferiority based upon being the progeny of a famous father and grandfather.
    For sure Colin Powell, wise, temporate, moderate tihinker and eminently wise in the ways of military thinking that attack should only be used as a last option. Just imagine that had we not decided on the Iraq option that the beast of Iraqwould likely still be playind his dreadful games but at least e woud still be around to keep en eye on a fearful Iran which he had already held to a stand still inwar even though Iran had triple Iraq,a population. General why did you do this to us?

    December 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. Denise Bolin

    Hilarious! Already blaming Obama for "ruining the country" when he's not sworn in yet? You can either whine and accuse or you can join with the dems and try and solve some problems. This is why Obama is so perfect for the country right now – he has the ability to unite. This will work well for us both at home and abroad. How about being part of the solution? Isn't that the "patriotic"and "country first" thing to do?

    Colin Powell is a wise man. When he speaks, people listen. He saw how superior Obama was to McCain and it had NOTHING to do with
    skin color. This is the danger of having Rush Limbaugh broadcasting hate.

    December 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Wayne

    Mr. Powell,
    As long as you have been around you have never said anything important or thought provoking. Water your garden and stay silent and let us remember you for what we thought you were.

    December 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Lord Libslayer

    Can anyone point me to where a Senate seat is for sale?

    December 11, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. Suffering in the Red state AZ

    "There is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is nothing wrong with having socially conservative views — I don't object to that." ??? (Yes there is just look at America under red ink Regan and the Bush debacles. jeesh)

    Don't listen to Rush??? (No kidding) Now there's some sound advice. But there's a few others you can put in that basket. Coulter, Hannity, Chris the screamer to name a few. How about the entire right wing puppy press?

    LOL This is hilarious.

    December 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. steve

    You liberals are all a bunch of American Communists. Anne Coulter is right, liberalism is a mental disorder.

    December 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. MG

    WOW! Who would have thought Colin Powell is anti First Amendment. What's next? HIs invoking the "fairness doktrine?"

    December 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |


    December 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Peter (CA)

    Republicans are not colorblind. Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond switched from being Democrats to being Republicans because the Democrats were the ones working for a colorblind society.

    Sure, that was in the 60's. But if you rememember the Ford/Corker Senate campaign in 2006, you know there are not a lot of changes.

    December 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. James

    Conservatives believe in:

    Strong national defense
    Lower taxes
    Strong free markets
    Smaller government
    States rights
    Secure borders

    What part of this agenda is racist, Mr. Powell?

    December 11, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. jm

    Didn't X general Powell fight wars to free people and liberate them?
    Anyone has the right to say what they want but the people also have the right not to listen. It shouldn't be up to politicians to dictate what is said and heard. Sounds very KGB like to me.

    December 11, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. SNAPPA


    December 11, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  13. LCinElsah

    Powell is the perfect example of a so-called "moderate" Republican! Which ever way the wind blows . . . .

    December 11, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. Steve

    Colin Powell is an idiot. Nobody listens to fools like him, Christopher Buckley, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, David Rodham Gergen, David Rodham Brooks, et al.

    December 11, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  15. ricardo

    TJClark how sad that your perceptions of our culture are built on tired, old, faded stereotypes that don't apply in todays world. Its no wonder the republican party has lost its way – most look through the lens of a static worldview – and constantly fall short – TJClark your words are simple cliche. WE ARE ALL IN A TIME OF CRISIS TOGETHER – EITHER LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST _OR FAIL.

    December 11, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. Slumberjack

    The Rethuglician party and it's supporters are enemies of the world. They are a breed onto themselves, and their hatemongering will continue to be a threat to decent people everywhere for generations to come. The financial crisis and the depression to come will only magnify this inbred hatred of theirs towards everything that is not like themselves, as they cast about for people to blame for the misery that is to befall the American people as the nation bankrupts itself. They will never understand that it has been the core republician ideals of greed and excess in everything that has caused this global financial crisis. Their continuing existence as a party and a philosophy is a crime against humanity.

    December 11, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. Joseph LLoyd

    The problem with conservatism is it preaches FREE MARKET CAPITALISM which basicllay is for the rich.Then they preach CHRISTIANTY where JESUS didn't favor the wealthy and so there is a contridiction of IDEAS.Anytime one puts the persuit of riches and wealth over the betterment of mankind he's doomed!That's why the bottom up philosphy will prevail time and time again!

    December 11, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. James Madison

    Republicans led this country to near destruction and they have the gawl to speak about a democratic president-elect before he has even sat in the chair. That is a clear demonstration of their low brow mentality. A republican is liken unto the hitler youth of the 40's. I am glad I am independent of that title.

    Obama won the election. Deal with it!!

    December 11, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. Montogomery Gregory

    Colin Powell is a man of integrity and respect. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter are all Republicans that incite anger and hatred towards others. This is the reason why so many people are sick of politics. I really believe that Sarah Palin ruined any Republican chance of winning with the speeches and hate language that was espoused at her rallies. She is very bad for our country; and so is Limbaugh. They are out of tune with the majority of Americans.

    December 11, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Perusing-Through

    Thank you General Powell. Please continue to "tell it like it is".

    December 11, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. jkiel

    My oldest son is a Major in the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division serving his 2nd term in Iraq. He also served a term in Afganistan. He has a 10 year old daughter. An 6 year old son and a 3 year old son. His trree year old came along not long after Colin Powell wrote his autobiography. My son and I both read the book and were big Powll fans. He named his youngest son Colin. We now call him by his middle name. What a traitor to the conservative party, he turned out to be.
    jkiel ormond fl

    December 11, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  22. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Mmmmmmm..........I see all this 'hate' being tossed Powell's way today because of his recent comments......but just a few months ago these haters were fantasizing about him being on the Republican ticket.......kinda funny.

    BTW......Powell's right!

    December 11, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  23. Tennessee Vol

    You zealot Dems hate Sarah Palin, Rush, Shawn, Reagan and all the rest. You preach inclusion and diversity but ONLY if the opinions are yours and idealogies are socialistic and left leaning.

    I've got news for you. This ISN'T Europe and European styled socialism will not work in the US.

    Our country was built on individualism, merit, hard work and good ole' capitalism. I realize that is terribly hard for some of you closet communists, but it's the facts.

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. DIZIZI31

    Yes, a General would know how to employ the proper tactics. Perhaps he should have met with McCain/Palin instead of Joe the Plumber. Too late now. Can we give the election a break and wait until at least 2010 before starting to look for a Republican leader. Right now, who really cares who's leading the Republican party. The entire country is in peril and so is the environment. 2010 will be here before you know it and then let the finger pointing and finding a republican leader get's to be headline news all over again. Ad nauum..

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. Rich

    If this country is going to be run by minorities, then we deserve our own fate. What black or hispanice country is a world power? White men made this country and minorities will ruin it.

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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