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. SMcD

    I am really tired of the left/democrats calling any ideology that is not their own "hate". They are not inclusive of people with different moral values. They despise people of strong religious convictions yet claim they are tolerant and progressive. The self-deception is enormous.

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Matt Modrich

    Poor Colin Powell !!! This guy just doesn't fit in ANYWHERE !!!!!
    After how many years of running around ranting and raving about "education" only the genius of George Bush would make him the Secretary of STATE !!!!
    Another washed up guy who doesn't know it !!

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. Tired of all you Koolaide drinkers

    All of you are lemmings. Powell is a traitor to his party. None of you know what it takes to protect my country or understand what liberty will pay.

    December 11, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  4. walterrego

    If it wasn't for talk radio (not necessarily Limbaugh) America wouldn't know about people like Rev. Wright, Obama's true Socialist agenda, or the backgrounds of the people he is appointing to cabinet posts.
    Powell should have a coke and a smile and STFU.

    December 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Peter (CA)

    How are the Democrats more divisive? Because they bring up the fact that there are racial, wealth, and other inequalities in this country? Would it be better to ignore them and pretend they are not there like right wingers do? Or should they only be trotted out when it is time to win an election like the Republicans do? Seriously, pay attention and read some history. The Democrats have issues also but the Republicans are the ones who use the politics of divisiveness on a daily basis.

    December 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. tom

    Hmmm, so to win elections in the future republicans have to become liberal democrats? What's the point. When the people have had their fill of Obama/Pelosi/Reid etc, they'll vote conservative. Not republican, conservative. Yes, there is a difference, a big difference.

    December 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Anne E.

    Gen. Powell is the perfect example of a man of honor.
    Wouldn't it be wonderful if his comments brought about the end of the likes of "comedian Rush Limbaugh," "Coultergeist," and Sarah Palin.

    December 11, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. Virginia Joe

    Powell is an embarssment to our country!!!

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Dennis D

    There is nothing wrong with the tactics used by McCain during the campaign. I found Obama and his use of the race card disgusting.

    " I don't look like other guys on dollar bills etc"

    Even Bill Clinton was forced to defend himself from attacks he was a racist. And then McCain was compared to George Wallace. Powell is a phony,

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Cybear

    I guess that Powell has a problem with the GOP being a party of principles. Good riddance.

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. Noram

    Hey, Colin. How much of the Kool-aid did you have to drink to say this crap? We live in a country that still has a democracy and most of us aren't going to give it up because you have an ego that was damaged by your ineptness.

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  12. Yikes

    HouseDiva – Hmm.... Which one of these am I.. An angry white man, a stepford wife, a religious nutcase, a white supremist, a gun toting war monger, an elitist fatcat, or an uneducated redneck. I guess I will pick an angry white man. My wife is the stepford wife. On second thought, I am part of the bread and butter of this country that realizes as one, we are great. Divided we fail. You Miss are an idiot.....

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  13. marlton dad

    It defies reality that you can be a conservative and support BO. BO has stated in every stump speech he is for more govt., higher taxes, less defense. If this is colin Powell feels these are conservative ideals...he is lost!!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA and CONSERVATISM...I am not sorry if I offended any of you!!!

    December 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Glenn

    This is so predictable, anything to get the heat off comrad Obama and
    the Chicago thugs.
    Powell didn't have the guts to run himself and turned on the party when they needed him. He is hardly the person to give Republicans advice. We don't need the Republican party to be a mirror image of the DNC.
    We shall never give up to mob rule of Baby killers and degenerates! Try as you might we are still here and calling GOD fearing family people racists won't work either. GOD is and always has been with us.
    The MSM and Holly Wood don't run this country yet and we shall in GOD's will, prevail.

    December 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. Mike Phillips

    TJ Clark you are right on. Powell endorsing Obama was ALL about race.

    December 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. William

    HouseDiva – you need professional help

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

    Well said!!! New cons, limbough, Palin, Caulter know only how to spews hatred in the name of patriotism and heroism. Every country can do the same but they seem to more civiled than these Holier than thou hypocrites and pretenders. Let them read Mathew 23 and same will follow them and kill them.

    December 11, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Dennis D

    Democrats ignored the Obama ties to a known Domestic Terrorist and claim the GOP is extremist?? This is laughable..

    December 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. fefe

    I totally agree rush limbaugh is a big, fat, racist, jerk, he has a one track mind, he really sucks and i would to tell him that in his face. For onething the republicans need to stop sulking and get over their defeat. President Obama won and that's that. Is it so hard to see AA's happy, let us have some joy for once in our lives, i mean my God you people are poor excuses for humans.

    December 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Dan

    That away Colin (don't enter Baghdad) Powell. Yeah we saw how his running the first Gulf war went. We had to go back and finish the job. He is really brilliant. He stabbed his boss in the back and Scootter Libby in the back by keeping quiet about Richard Armitage being the leak regarding Valerie Plame. What a JERK.

    I didn't hear any Republicans call Bill Clinton a Nazi, a War Criminal, a Terrorist, a Murderer, etc.. during his presidency - maybe a liar and a womanizer(but he was that!!)–but the Dems called President Bush that and worse. So who are the polarizing figures. History will record that the Democrats were.

    December 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. Cybear

    Kim from Dallas: Exactly how did Sarah Palin engage in 'hate speech'. Please cite specific examples if you are going to blather like this.

    December 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  22. The Skeptic

    Craig's right - as long as Republicans allow Democrats and independents to voe in primaries, the Republican candidate will not be conservative. And conservatives win every time. They just can't get nominated. Maybe it's by design, eh?

    December 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. Doc

    Re: TJ Clark's statement
    Obviously the focus of what Gen. Powell was talking about is your position as a member of the GOP; You don't get it. You obviously drink at the font of Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Beck, Hewitt, O'Reilly, Liddy and the rest of the right wing talking points on radio and can't get past the facts. In no way did Powell even bring color into the conversation he had on "Meet the Press" when he endorsed Obama. Limbaugh trumpeted that untruth. You earn no cool points in just railing against Powell because toyou he is an affirmative action officer. This was a major problem for the GOP base in the election. You forgot that other people serve in the military besides WASP americans. maby are ethnicities and other religions. Powell pretty much must have infuriated you in talking about the muslim kid buties in Arlington. Palin pretty much infuriated many independent and democrat veterans with the 'you're not a patriot if you're not woith us' BS. Her "2 minute Hates" were super obvious, exclusive, and racist and turned many off. If that's your view, that's fine Clark...but deal in the truth, stay grounded and stop whining like a F-ing baby. Grow some.
    I'm a Navy vet, war vet. Are you?

    December 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. No Hillary = No Obama

    Isn't this the same Colin Powell who went before the UN to hammer home Bush's Iraq War? Give me a break.

    December 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |

    Now that there has been a "Minority" elected maybe we can move on to being American again. I don't understand how someone that's a minority think there place in America is different then someone who is not. Do they not pay the same taxes, worship in the same house of God, watch the same sporting events, listen to the same music, eat in the same restraunts, send our kids to the same schools? Don't emigrants come to this country to become Americans????? Or do they come to become a Minority? E PLURIBUS UNUM!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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