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. marine43

    Stu-florida, Why do you punks fear Sarah so? I know why. You can't stand an independent spirit. Your a bunch of goose steppin sheeple.You get 4 yrs to try socialism. If you don't waste it blamin all future failures on Bush.

    December 11, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  2. RU Serious

    Funny how most analysis says the GOP lost because of the economic crisis, and the tracking polls back that up. People blamed the party in power, which, fair or not, has always been the track record of the American voter. Powell knows better, though, McCain and the GOP lost because they didn't pander enough to minorities.
    While it is true that conservatives must, must increase their emotional intelligence, Mr. Powell is actively encouraging the GOP to deemphasize [translate: compromise] principle to gain popularity. That is a dark, dark path to take, fraught with the unintended consequence of self-destruction. The GOP's recent dabbling with that path is the true reason for it's perilous state.
    I urge conservatives to repel Mr. Powell's attempt to lead the GOP farther down that path.

    December 11, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  3. penny

    The Republicans trusted and honored Colin Powell for the majority of his career. So now, this is his comment to them. Shame on him. He is losing much credibility from those who admired him through those years with the opinions he is voicing today. Rush Limbaugh does not speak (shout) for all Republicans. Surely, Colin Powell is intelligent enough to know this. He apparently has some avenging to do with these reckless comments. They do not hold true.

    December 11, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. iowatom

    Powell is an idiot.....he's out for himself as you can be, The only way this guy can ever be a team player is if he;s head of the team e.g. America's Promise, but he doesn't have the chops to be a real leader, because he lacks thecourage of conviction. He only wants to play in closed systems. Ignore him.

    December 11, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. regular guy

    Wasn't Colin Powell the same guy that argued most vociferously for the Iraq invasion? Or was he just fooled by the all evil and incredibly stupid George Bush? Didn't the democrats label him an "uncle tom"? when he towed the republican line? I don't really care for either party as I can see both sides are corrupt. The only thing I will state is that "fans" of the democratic party are less logical and spew far more hatred than the average conservative...only the lunatic left uses words like hate, stupid, immoral, etc...

    December 11, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. BSH

    Powell is right. Limbaugh is past news and us conservatives need to go elsewhere. His attitude stinks.

    Powell is also right when he says we can be conservative and embrace reality... it's not a white world anymore. And I'm white, so I think I can say that.

    December 11, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. TK

    Ya, follow the crowd. Don't live by principles or what made this country great. The country is losing its values so we should too if we want to get elected. Colin Powell is a bitter moron that will sell his soul to the highest bidder. The Repubs DO need to pull their head out and get BACK to conservative ideas.

    December 11, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  8. 3dogs

    General Powell;............that name sounds familiar. Oh yeah, I remember now. He's the guy who played political games to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to go down to his ancestral island in the Caribbean to rebuild the slum villages that the local crooks wouldn't take care of. He did it with the stateside taxpayers' money, too.That was mighty whi.. er, Liberal of him wasn't it ? I THOUGHT that name sounded familiar !

    December 11, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  9. ricardo


    December 11, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  10. Sue

    According to the "conservatives" here I am liberal.

    I believe: the death penalty is wrong
    abortion is wrong, but should not be illegal–who am I to judge another?
    the government performs many services better than my neighborhood or town can, thus taxes are a necessary evil
    the budget should be balanced...we should not be borrowing from China
    war will never bring peace
    George Bush should be in jail
    Love your neighbor as yourself
    Christmas is a Christian holiday...there is no "war on Christmas" except the one created by Bill-O
    How do any of these things make me liberal–they are core values that any Christian would have...yet because I believe in helping folks with tax dollars, I'm an evil, mean, stupid liberal. God I pray for these close-minded people to step back and figure out for themselves what this country should be.

    December 11, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  11. WWJBD

    Powell should bone up on his American History and review exactly what party supported Black Americans for voting rights and etc. Hint, it wasn't the democrats. As for listening to Rush, as far as I know we still have the freedom of speech and if he doesn't like that he can always twist the radio channel knob and tune in Airhead Amerika.

    December 11, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  12. Jim

    This is rich, TRUE(I don't consider Rush truly conservative but merely a puppet of the RNC. Glenn Beck Is a true conservative) conservative talk radio is the problem now,huh? The Republican party swerving off to the center or even left of center is the problem. These RINO's, such as Powell, are the main problem. Coservatism at it's core needs to return to it's roots of Pro-life platform, The marriage protection act, shrink the size of government, cut taxes on everyone who pays them, not the dead beats who live off the system. Powell at the end of the day, will probably get his wish. With the new chairman of the FCC that obama has chosen, it will only be a matter of time before the"fairness doctrine" is reinstated, which will let the rats in Washington run free to do what they see fit!

    December 11, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. sdrater

    "CHANGE to appeal to a LARGER AUDIENCE." So an ideology is to be thought of as a script for a TV serial during "sweeps" months? I almost hate to be the one to break it to you, but the steadfast belief among some in personal liberty and limited government won't roll over and die, as could more justly be expected of the empty-headed and counter intuitive trash pedaled by the likes of you.

    December 11, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. Robbie

    Generals should be generals when we are at war, and then retire with some dignity. When they try to "hang on" and be something they are not, it is bad for them and bad for the country, e.g. Ike

    December 11, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  15. Carter Country

    Right on-let's all stop listening to Rush and go directly to the SAVAGE NATION. Michael Savage was SO right on today about the mess in Illinois and Rahm Emmanuel's connection-holding a seat previously held by a certain Illinois Governor with a bad hairdo. this is only the beginning folks-more arrest to come.

    December 11, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. scott

    Colin you are a RINO. Just go to the other side and stay there. Don't waste your time by trying to convince us that you are a Rebpublican. Oh! and all you have to do to stop RUSH, is turn the dial to the non-existant "competition" from your side. BTW, be a man, and start your own talk show...Like who is going to listen to you no spine Liberal?

    December 11, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. BSH

    Powell is right; Limbaugh is old news, we repubs should not be listening to his stinky attitude.

    Powell is also right that it's no longer a white world, so we whites (me included) need to embrace reality.

    December 11, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  18. Hal

    I find it truly mind-boggling that General Powell suggests that "we may be better off not listening to Rush Limbaugh". Does he remember that "freedom of speech" is one of our most important freedoms?

    December 11, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  19. rocco

    The hypocrasy is mindblowing!!! I doubt 10% of the people posting here ever even listen to Rush Limbaugh. What exactly does Limbaugh say that is so upsetting to you? I'd guess most of you dolts shouting "yeah Rush is horrible" are either participating in a propaganda campaign or know you're lying. This is image of conservatives as hatemongering and bigoted has been created and propagated by the main stream media and liberals. They've truly subscribed to the Hitler teaching that telling a big enough lie will most often result in people believing it. I see no examples of what makes Rush so polarizing or horrible. Just a bunch of agreeing with the false image perpetuated by the main stream media that Rush obliterates on a daily basis by exposing their lies and misinformation. To all you people blasting Rush (who of course never listen to him) do you understand you're being manipulated? You're railing out against a person who only wishes for people to be independent and self sufficient yet some how he's the villain. This lie has been fostered because people like Rush are a threat to the media. The hilarious and misleading things he exposes about them embarres them. They want to control what you think so they retain their power over you. Why would you hate someone who advocates for a government with less power of your lives?

    December 11, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  20. Richard

    Rush 10 - Powell 0 Powell is no more a Republican then I am a giraffe. Any one who voted for Barack is not a Republican, don't care what they say.

    December 11, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  21. Carson

    Wow, I once said that I wanted this guy to run for president. I take it back now! He's a loon!

    December 11, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. Clinger

    For someone who has endeavored to have it both ways by publicly supporting the Iraq war and so as to insure he was included in the DC social cabal circuit expressed of record he did not believe the Iraq war prudent and moreover and most important to be the fly in the ointment that insured the DC and Pentagon could not consider anything except his conventional warfare concept is a travesty. He considered the only way to conduct war to be his "Powell Doctrine" and not to consider irregular warfare or Petraeus type tactics. Powell and his minions need to be aggressively challenged as the media bias has not found the rational or guts to to do while Rush stands alone in that challenge. The Press is as derelict in its duty as is Powell for not encouraging such tactical discussions.
    "Today in Iraq, we are benefiting from the leadership of officers who were studying counterinsurgency and irregular warfare precisely when the Powell Doctrine made such ideas unpopular and seemingly obsolete. Just as the so-called Petraeus Doctrine is apparently supplanting its predecessor as the conventional wisdom, there is, thankfully, another small cadre of officers questioning its tenets." Armed Forces Journal
    Powell and his socially inclined officers were derelict in their duties for not considering the tactics that are now finding success in Iraq. Irregular warfare is not new. Tito found success with irregular warfare as did the WW II OSS.
    If you want to be a Dem then declare your political afflictions as you did with Obama. Powell's political proclivities have finally been revealed. We now understand his reluctance...

    December 11, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  23. grytpype

    The Republicans are never going to change, except to get crazier and crazier.

    They'll never be in power again, they're going the way of the Whigs.

    December 11, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  24. Dale

    Mr. Powell is a smart man. He realized long ago how to ride that conservative horse as far up the ladder as he could and got off that horse once he could no longer benefit from being a closet liberal. What a hypocrite. He has lost all creditability with all true patriots. Now that he is a confirmed liberal, I am sure CNN and MSNBC will be using him as a new analyst as he would have soon faded to obsecurity..

    December 11, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  25. Ahmnodt Heare

    Both parties have mouths that America would be better off if it was shut. Both parties have had major politicians involved in scandals. When you look at voting records, both parties. It is time to give third parties serious consideration.

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