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. NY Red

    Lest we forget .... Democrat officials blocked the school steps in Alabama, Democrat officials enforced "seperate but equal" for decades, democrat officials put on the white sheets for weekend hijinks. In more recent days, Democrats displayed the finer points of the English language with the many facets of what "is" is. Powell, and the rest of you, can try to paint the situation differently for whatever reasons, but history tends to view a little more impartially.

    December 12, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Pattie

    When we try to be like liberals instead of our core conservatism, we lose. Colin Powell has always been a liberal and will always be a liberal. Go and put a D behind your name and that goes for alot of other so called conservatives. Rush and Sara are right. Stick with core values, do not try to out liberal theliberals nd you will get elected.

    December 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. steve cox

    Rush is not a republican you fools, he is a conservative. Its obvious that many of you have never listed to rush or have any idea what your talking about. Rush is angry with the republicans for becoming the Dems of old while the current dems become socialist. Do you all not see that old white men are in power on the left, not just the right? Obamas marxist revolution will fail and all the promises that he made he will break. You all will just blame bush for all of eternity and never take individual responsibility for your own problems while begging the government (who created this economic mess) for your own life bailouts. Powell's obviously drunk with the obama kool-aid and thinks by "switching" parties he can somehow get a political "do over" and get a job with his new idol. Powell didn't stand up to bush when the missles were flying and we were fighting the terrorist. See the forest through the trees people....we need a new government with less power and influence on our lives. The current govt, both repub and dems alike are killing this country. The only way to get there is true conservatism.

    December 12, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. Tom

    Come on General. Are you a child? It was an election year. Both sides polarize . . . and especially the underdog in an election. Grow up!

    December 12, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. patrick m walsh

    Gimme a break. The people didn't pick Obama the liberal media did. Where was Powell when McCain was called a Nazi?Where was Powell when the Obama camp called Bill Clinton a racist? Where was Powell when the New York Times accused McCain of cheating on his wife with NO Proof? On their cover too!!! Powell is an opportunist. He gave no specifics on what Rush Limbaugh says that is SO harmful to the GOP. As for Rush being a "bigot" try Jesse Jackson, Sharpton, and Rev Wright on for size. Sigh.

    December 12, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. CMD

    I got about 20 posts into this and gave up. It is humorous reading a bunch of libs telling conservatives how to be better conservatives though. I don't really want to be part of a Liberal Lite party.

    December 12, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Joe

    "I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,ā€¯Powell said" How about all the yelling, shouting, hate mongering and other negative aspects coming from the left over the last eight years. They have the print, the tv media, Hollywood, unions, academia, blacks, hispanics, etc. Talk radio has been the only media outlet available to right, and the left wants to take that away.

    Shame on General Powell. He is a traitor to the cause.

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Mike

    It just may be Gen Powell is jocking for a position with the new administration. The problem with Republcans is they left their core conservative values in the last election. Reaching out to the liberals does not work – ask John McCain.

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. John

    You have got to be kidding me. Anything that comes from CNN is strickly BS and spun by the Democratic party

    December 12, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. Carrie

    What a disappointment. The last thing the Republican party needs is to give up its core conservative values. I've lost all respect for Colin Powell. As for El Rushbo – Thank you! At least there are a few who still stand up for whats right and good in America! Keep up the good work!

    December 12, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. patrick m walsh

    The GOP should ignore Rush when the Liberal Democrats ignore Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jane Fonda, Rev Wright, Rev Farrakhan, Rosie O'Donnell, Alec Baldwin,, Castro, Chavez, NAMBLA, etc.

    December 12, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Gary Johnson

    Is there anything quite as worthless as a liberal republican? This man is the wimp who didn't run for president in 1996 because he was afraid of being shot...interesting philosophy for a "military" man...

    December 12, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Francisco

    "Ironically, conservatives like Limbaugh had strongly opposed John McCain during his presidential campaign, while Powell donated $2,300 to McCain during his primary effort."
    Colin Powell IS A HYPOCRITE

    December 12, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Aaron

    Gen Powell: I am shocked and diappointed. Give us some specifics please...this stuff sounds nice but is meaningless. How, exactly, do Republicans exclude minorities? Here's a question for you: when you lead in the Army, did you adjust your policies and principles to accomodate based on race (or any other factor)? Or did do what you thought was right for the organization? I'm glad you didn't bring race into your Army career.

    December 12, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Jackson

    Hey Republicans..

    This is your wake-up call..

    Half of you, in looking at the comments completely missed the boat. You don't have to agree with everything he said, but you should at the very least appreciate the spirit to which it was given..... Let your past forever be your prolouge...

    December 12, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Emily

    I don't take anything Colin Powell says these days with any seriousness. He's a flake. We need Rush to keep the sane people in this country sane. All of the ignorant people that don't understand the importance of free speech can move.

    Powell who?

    December 12, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Paul

    There is no difference between the Republicrats and the Demopublicans. What do I care what this tax parasite, government killer has to say.

    December 12, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Ellen

    Like I would listen to anything this guy has to say about conservative values when he abandoned the conservative party in favor of the most liberal presidential candidate in this century, simply because of race. Puleeze. The Republicans will only regain and retain power by staying TRUE to their conservative principles, and the more conservative the better!!!!

    December 12, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Tim

    Mostof you Dems are so nieve, there are just as many rich whilte guys in the Democratind Party and Republicans. I happen to be Independant. The difference between the parties use to be self reliance or not, big government or not, right to pursue happiness, not guarantee. Hey Dems, read a book once in a while.

    December 12, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Chris

    Powell can say that to CNN but he wouldn't get away with it in the same room as Rush.

    In other words, Powell's argument is indefensible.

    All one need do is learn that there are plenty of "minority" conservatives.

    I would like to listen to Powell debate with Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams.

    Powell is smart enough that he will never get caught doing that. He'd lose big time.

    December 12, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  21. scratchud

    what amazes me is how vile the left is in it's words + accuazations...BUT,heaven forbid that a conservative express thier opinion!Life has a unique ability to balance itself out,unless one let's the mind get poisoned by all the b.s. that some people put out!!

    December 12, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Tanduck

    Jeez is this some sort of Liberal hate fest. The GOP will rise again. Especially after the Obama-nation!

    December 12, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. Raymond Tief

    Colon Powell is upset that he looked like an idiot before the UN and he has no one else to blame than himself. He was an absolute failure as Sec. of State and all of the neocons that he now lashes out at, knew it.

    December 12, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  24. JfromPA

    The GOP didn't polarize in this last election. They made many concessions to liberal ways of thinking (think Bush's prescription drug program, and McCain wanting to buy up all the bad mortgages). If conservative politicians would stand up for conservative values, they would find themselves back in power (think the popularity of Sarah Palin and, even though it upsets Mr. Powell, Rush Limbaugh). This Nation still leans right, but maaaany are disenfranchised with broken promises and deaf policy makers.

    December 13, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  25. hackeymom

    Settle down kids. Republicans lose one election, and all of a sudden, everyone on the other side of the aisle thinks we should be more like them–no just like them. Nice try, but its not going to work. Nearly 60 million people voted for John McCain. That's a LOT of people who disagree with you on a lot of things, we're not just gonna throw in the towel 'cause we lost one Presidential election. You didn't do it in 2000, or 2004, in fact, you ramped up your hate and lies to an inprecedentedly nasty, nasty level of 8 years of bile-spewing. NOW we all should get along and do things your way? Again...nice try.

    December 13, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
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