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. Muscadine

    Wow!!! I love the pinko dems posts. They talk about the people that make up the republican party, mostly common people. And let's look at who basically supports the democrat party.

    Union bosses, homosexuals, welfare recepients, black (94% for Hussein Obama), and the NEA. So it looks like democrats are people that depend on the Government to take our money to support about 3/4 of their support.

    Sheds a different light when you really look at it. Take a look at the US map of the 2008 presidential vote, colored by counties. What do we see?

    Obama won 20 states, McCain 30
    Population of counties won by Obama: 127 million, McCain: 143 million
    Murder rate per 100K residents in counties won by Obama:
    13.2 By McCain: 2.1
    Square miles of land won by Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000

    So who are the really uneducated pinko nutcases?

    December 12, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. jumping

    One of the more interesting Limbaugh segments was the one after the Republican Party leadership formally apologized to the NAACP for using "racially divisive" tactics in the South. Rush almost had a stroke. It was very entertaining (and enlightening.) If it hadn't been for Rush's tantrum, I doubt anyone would have noticed. As it was, he certainly made it clear where he was coming from. I hate to tar a whole political party by the actions of one TV entertainer, but judging from the posts here, he is a hero to a significant number of Republicans. A racist, recovering addict whose main talent is his big mouth. I would bet the world he will be attacking Obama for the Governor of Ohio's blatant corruption, even though there is not even a hint Obam was involved.

    December 12, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  3. Chris

    This is an amazing study in political science for students.

    The conservative paradigm has shifted to where being a conservative today is equal to a being liberal 20 to 30 years ago. Bush has not governed from the right. But he has kept us from being attacked since 9/11.

    Rush is right. True conservatisim works and will win every time it is tested. McCain isn't a conservative. Remember, conservatisim today is being a liberal light.

    Liberalism is a religion to the left. It is also a mental disorder. You don't have to think and be intellectually honest to be a liberal. All you have to do is FEEL.

    But don't try and have a conversation with a liberal; they are the smartest people in the room, and will happily tell you.

    December 12, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  4. Jeffrey Ward

    No General Powel that's not why the GOP lost the election. They lost because they took the attitude that you have, give up what you believe to be liked, when the whole time those telling you to give up are NEVER going to like you, they just want you to give up. We are headed towards a nationalized and socialistic government. Where the government has a stake in private business, so that it can tell it what to do and when and how. Some will say that our system is broken, no the system isn't broken it's the people who are running it that are broken, they have love of power over love of country. "To this we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." why do elected officials no longer believe what our founders did.

    December 12, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  5. AM

    Can't wait to hear Rush's comments tomorrow!

    December 12, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. Silvio Renzulli

    hey Moron, unless I am mistaken it was Blagovitch who was indicted, are all republicans as dumb as the one in the White House, guess so. Oh by the way Fitzgerald went out of his way to exonerate the prez-elect, but you probably missed that and decided to just jump to conclusions, typically republican.

    December 12, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  7. James

    Who the hell takes any creedence in what this war criminal says? Powell is one of the traitorous criminals who lied to the American People and preached that Iraq must be invaded! Remember THAT? 4,000 American troops and over ONE MILLION Iraqi civilian deaths later he STILL has not been brought to justice! And here we are pretending that he is an American HERO!!!!!

    December 12, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  8. C Robert Anderson

    Colin Powell would do well to start listening to Rush and learn the meaning of American democracy, freedom, & patriotism. The Republican Party will win back control of this blessed country if more and more of the good people listen to and understand the Doctor of Democracy when he so eloquently defends the conservative truths and the meaning of our great constitution.

    December 12, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |

    Collin has never been a conservative or Republican. He had used that as a ladder. He is a back stabber and an oportunist. He used the affirmative action to rise. The reason liberals hate Rush Lumbaug is because he is fearless and tells how it is. He is not afraid of naming names. As long as Rush has a voice he will help us to find the truth. He is a real American, more than the moron Colin. He cross party lines? My foot, he has never been a real Republican. It does not matter that Ogama is total incopetent and uncapable of doing the job of a president. He only has a goal in his mind. To turn this beautiful country into a socialist/communist pilot. His dream is to make America like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia. Idiot, he went to Germany ant appoligized for us. For what? For America defending Europa and liberating them from oppresors? I am sick and tired of the liberal mentality.

    December 12, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  10. Peter (CA)

    Pat Myles-

    I think I know what evil is....evil is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the name of spreading democracy though you do not need a third grade education to see it was more about stabilizing the oil market.

    Evil is diverting funds from needed levees in New Orleans and then blaming the destruction of a major American city on "God's will".

    Evil is pandering to corporations like insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and allowing your own citizens to get sick, become disabled and die all in the name of "the market".

    Evil is thinking you know what is right for your citizens, saying you are about freedom but then telling them what they can do with their bodies and who they can love.

    Now I will say evil is bipartisan but your arguments placing it all on the left are shoddy. We don't "attack" religion, we say do not impose your particular religion. We do not want to take away your ability to protect yourself, we do not want you to bring the violence to our parks, our restaurants, and our streets.
    And seriously....the left is not going to "take" your money. You live in the greatest society in the world, you (and the rest of us) have a responsibility to keep it going, to help those who need help, and to make our country better for EVERYONE.

    December 12, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  11. Will

    Why not talk about principles?

    Powell's a twit.

    I'd like to see any Republican who could have won the Presidency this term.

    December 12, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  12. Tony

    Who cares what Colin Powell says now? He is just as incosequential as George W. Bush is these days. Rush will continue to be the voice of the conservative movement in this country, not the Republican party.

    December 12, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  13. Bee

    I posted a comment on this site and it did not appear? Is this site censored?

    December 12, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  14. Todd

    All the people saying that they're happy about Colin Powell's remarks, and that he's right about the changes needed to the Republican party ... would NEVER vote for a Republican.

    You people like to maintain the illusion that you're "moderate", and that you would give the Republican party a shot, but you're really just lying to yourselves.

    Liberals are the most divisive, narrow-minded people of all, because if you speak up with an opinion that differs from theirs, you are ridiculed.

    Just look at how they treat "talk radio". Instead of being open-minded and all-inclusive, they would shut down the free speech of talk radio in an instant, if given the chance.

    I don't know how you immature people live with yourselves, especially those who remain liberal beyond the age of 30.

    December 12, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  15. Anthony

    The Republican party just nominated the most left wing Republican in decades, a man that Rush Limbaugh and most conservatives hated and the party lost badly by going with such a liberal Republican. The lesson from this isn't that the Republican party should become more progressive and cast away true conservatives like Limbaugh. The lesson is that we should never nominate a man like John McCain ever again. If the Republicans want to win they have to get back to nominating true conservatives, not phony Republicans like McCain, Powell, or Bloomberg. John McCain was nothing more than the liberal insurance policy in this election. Republicans would have lost no matter who would have won this election, except things would have been worse for us Republicans if McCain had won because he would have destroyed the identity of the party by acting like a liberal. At least now all the liberal mistakes that Obama makes will be pinned on the Democratic party and Republicans can take a clear conservative opposition to Obama's liberal policies. What happened in this election is good because it will help Republicans find their way back to their conservative roots. Republicans care about what Colon Powell says about as much as Democrats care about what Joe Lieberman has to say. Not much.

    December 12, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  16. John Galt

    Here in LA, Hispanic gangs have been ethnically cleansing African-Americans from their neighborhoods, and there is huge animosity between the two groups. Sorry, General, but they have different things in their hearts.

    And if the subtext is that the only way to win Hispanic voters is a policy essentially of open borders, then the majority of voters, both Democrats and Republicans, disagrees.

    December 12, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  17. William P. O'Brien

    Colin Powell is a racist and a coward. He did nothing to rescue 19 brave soldiers in Mogadishu when Bill Clinton decided to sacrifice them so he wouldn't look like an aggressor. Powell should have been court martialed as the traitor he is. Why would anyone be surprised that he abandoned his party. He joined the other 96% of his tribe and voted for Obama.

    December 12, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  18. they won't listen

    There is a lot of Rush (drug addict,bigot ) on this board ,it seem one person keep posting under adifferent name. Get a life! oh don't forget in 2012 I already got my sticker for the republicons "I told so"

    December 12, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  19. Brandon

    Powell is wrong in his belief of Obama, however he is right about the party. Somehow the republican party became the hate party. At McCain rallies I would hear things like "Obama will give blacks the power to take over!" and other disturbing language that I can't mention here. I believe strongly in conservative values, protecting the instuition of marriage, defending christmas and not the politically correct "holiday whatever". However I notice that many conservative likeminded individuals were expressing a lot of anger at anyone who did not think as we did. I even noticed that conservative whites have started playing the race game more than Al Sharpton! Everytime a black preson accomplished something conservative whites would say "Oh it's only because he is black and got special treatment." I also noticed how many conservatives have started attacking intelligent people by calling them elitist. WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE AND WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BE ELITIS!

    Somehow we as republicans have lost site of our core values being smaller government, the rights of states, and a moral core and have allowed ourselves to become a party ran by angry, bitter, white (sometimes bigoted) people. I am afraid of the future, because minorities will be the majority and the republicans are so tied into the shouting rehotric of "they are out to get us" that minority groups will be scared to join us and conservative values will become powerless and the nation will be ran by liberals!

    December 12, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. William P. O'Brien

    Well, I can see that if you are not a card carrying socialist who drinks the liberal kool-aid you are not likely to get posted here. Clinton News Network shining Obama's apple!

    December 12, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  21. Jerry P.

    All you have to do is turn on or turn off the channel on the radio. Some conservatives are somewhat popular, others are greatly popular. Why? Because some make much greater sense because they greatly prepare for their programs. These hosts become so popular that all sides of the equation turn on to listen. Others, usually the more liberal ones, have a very small group of listeners because their talk is like a child throwing a rock at another child. The Radio audience is much more soffisticated than TV.
    As to politicians, who was the group who had the confirmed crazys during this election ? The Dems. Rev Wright ! Resko! Ayers! Socialistic /Communistic Policies=Obama. But the blind hatered of Bush, whose sworn oath is to protect America he fullfilled, led them to not see the actual in your face crazys of the Dems. Evil can never see good becauce evil thinks all think like them.
    And finally, the difference between a lib and cons. -When you see someone driving a vehical with two small American flags waving in the wind, HOW DO YOU FEEL .WHAT DO YOU THINK

    December 12, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. Frank

    Regarding the question of listening to Limbaugh–Yes. No doubt. The freedom of press is paramount to a free society. We must continue to listen to opinions that are critical of both sides of the political spectrum–the first amendment.

    Yet , the greatest danger of this past election is that the major "watchdogs" of freedom, the major outlets of press, have become slanted–biased, to the point of almost being a closed press–will it lead to a closed society?

    Do we produce a political party based upon biased driven wants, or do we stand upon principles of freedom regardless of minority color–white , black, brown, yellow, tan or whatever.

    Mr. Powell. Are you interested in winning elections, or standing firm upon principles of freedom, democracy and free enterprise?

    Time will tell.

    December 12, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  23. Jon24

    He is right about one thing and that is the minorities will be the majority. The sad part is that they will turn the USA into a 3rd world country just like they have everywhere else they are in power. I think it is time for whites to start reproducing like rabbits and try to keep some balance for our own good! Go ahead call me what you want just because I have the nuts to say it!

    December 12, 2008 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  24. Newagegop

    Bush has only done 2 things for social conservatives. We got 2 judges out of him and that happened only after his girl Harriet got vetoed by the base. Bush is NOT a conservative. He's a big government republican. He only got away with that crap, because conservatives felt required to support the war. The war in Iraq wasn't even conservative it was "neo-republican". Powell is an idiot. We lost because we were fiscally irresponsible period. Had the economy not tanked ol' McModerate would have gotten in there and played the same games Bush did.

    Palin was the ONLY ONLY honest legit person running last election. The only one who cared about the people making decisions for ourselves. She is personally very conservative, but ran Alaska with a very libertarian streak. She even stopped a law was meant to ban gay rights. Sarah is like Reagan. She encourages conservative values, but believes in the Constitution. She wants us to decide how we want to live not judges.

    She'll never make it at the federal level. She's just not corrupt enough. She actually balances her states budget. She actually succeeds while all the rest fail.

    December 12, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  25. sue

    I don't see how the minorities are going to become the majority if 60% of their pregnancies end in abortion, especially with the expanding of abortion rights with bills like FOCA.
    Sounds to me like Powell has become a liberal and wants the conservatives to do the same.
    Old white men? Harry Reid, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Joe Biden . . .

    December 12, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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