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. Dittohead

    ooooooooooooooooo, Colin, aren't we feeling full of one's self.
    Maybe I sould be impressed?
    Naa, just another State Dept. clone, getting older too.

    December 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. Slumberjack

    Jesus was the first socialist. He walked among the poor, cured the sick for free, handed out food, asked people to turn the other cheek and not to resort to violence to settle differences. He encouraged people to pay their taxes, saying render onto Caesar what belongs to Caesars. Christian Republician Evangelicals could learn alot if only they'd walk along the path of socialism like Jesus did. Fat chance of that happening though, because it takes intelligence to figure it out. 🙂

    December 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. Chris Marino

    It is absolutely amazing that conservatives are going after Colin Powell now. Why is it that the right has to divide the country, no matter what the cost. Obama will be the leaser of our country in less then two months. The country has never been in worse shape. But yet people still would rather divide the country rather than help it.

    December 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. eileen

    Who does Colin Powell think he is to tell the entire Republican party they need to listen to minorities. I'm SICK of listening to minorities and trying to placate them. All they do is want more and more. BHO
    has set back race relations fifty years and Colin is going to add more years to that setback. And he needs to realize Rush has been well known throughout the country longer than he....Like him or hate him Rush keeps up with the times and has a pretty good idea of where the country is at any time.
    You have earned a leave, General. Please take it!!!!

    December 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. No incumbents 2010

    His name fits.

    December 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Mac-101

    You people are on Drugs that believe that the Repubs are the devisive ones. FDR created our presently segmented voter blocks and it has been perfected over the years. The Repubs are spineless disgusting things that do not stand up for their core beliefs.

    I was on of those who was hoping that he would run for president in 2000. He chickened out. The Repubs were begging him to run. If he doesn't have the CO Jones to have had elimenated the Republican Gaurd back in Gulf War I, nor the intestinal fortitude to have run for president when the country was begging him to do, who is he to lecture us?

    Why doesn't he get out there and support Repubs who are conservatives that happen to be black? What's wrong with encouraging JC Watts, Michael Steele, Herman Cain, and Lynn Swann and others to run again? These people are true conservatives and not some kind of fake Repub RINOs like President Bush I and II!

    Instead he supported PE Obama who is bought and sold the the puppetmaster George Soros and the other Trans National Kapitalist. Just look at his picks so far. Hope you people enjoy your New World Order. 1984 will be here by 2012!

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. Ryan

    I think theproblemisjust theopposite. Republicanslost because they nominated a man who wasnot willingto"polarize." You win by presenting the best argument,not tryingtoplease everyone. Conservatism and capitalism have always worked. You can't argue that. The current economic mess is due to the fact that we abandoned free market principles and now we are paying theprice. McCain lost this election and it would not even have been as close without Palin on his ticket. We'll suffer the consequences of socialism for the next 4 years and everyone will see what an idiot Obama is.Powell is out of his league and I am surprised he would attack an intellectually superior Limbaugh.

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    There are to many lazy people in this country for the republicans to have long term success. To many want something for nothing and are not willing to work to get ahead and are jealous and want those wiling to work to support them.

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  9. Joan

    Does that mean the affirmative action policy to shift the other way. Will we then have the White Caucus in the Congress? Or will all that be outlawed by then?

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  10. Bruce Oksol

    He goes to UN to fight Bush's fight.

    When the going got tough, C. Powell withered.

    I did not care for him a lot when he was first appointed (there were signs that concerned me) and now as Rev Wright has said, Powell's chickens have come home to roost.

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. Hayden

    If this is how he felt he should have spoken up earlier.

    December 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. Ken

    General Powell former Secretary of State is touching on a subject that few dare. He has served his country to the best of his ability, As an American and a patriot. He has paved the way for othe ethnic minorities in the military and government. I listen to Rush and others like him to remind me of how dangerous people can be when given the attention of millions. Rush and some of the others are just plain conspiracy driven crack pots. In saying that I still believe the right to free speech and the right to "change the channel" I will heed General Powells advise. No more rush limbaugh, just maybe alttle of Bill O

    December 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. JAWilson

    Powell hung an innocent man out to dry while he was leaking through Armitage. Powell is a snake without a soul.

    December 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. Jerry, Slidell, LA

    All the negative Rush comments make me wonder why Rush and Hannity have the largest number of listeners/viewers of any other programs. Can anyone name a Dem oriented talk show that has over 100 listeners?

    December 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Roberto

    I am amazed how the Republican machinery function. Eight years ago I became a proud US Citizen with the commitment to be a contributing citizen to this country. Since I became a citizen one of my proudest moments is to go to the booth with my children to vote. I reside in NYC and I am not afraid to vote cross party line. After the President Elect Obama's victory I kept thinking about the future of the Republican party. For one, the Republican party sideline the importance of the minority population in the United States. The party is behavior turns a blind eye to the minority group in general. I am a democratic and I am not afraid to vote for a republic candidate if that individual has the dignity and integrity to lead us for a better tomorrow as country. It sadden me when radio personality becomes the face of that party. The Republican party must change their strategies if they want to represent we are as US citizens.

    December 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  16. John

    I cruise these sites and I have noticed that 'underdogs' write more than people in so-called power.

    The truth as I see it is that a nation needs both progressive people to try to steer, since change (population, science) is the only constant, while conservatives are needed to ride the brakes. Properly balanced, the nation moves forward constantly but carefully.

    Powell's voice is a voice for balance. I respect him for seeing both sides.

    December 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. matt

    How can we respect the opinion of a man who remained silent knowing that Dick Armitage was the source of the Plame leak, and allowed Libby to go to jail and a NY Times reporter to do the same?

    Powell lost the respect of a lot of people when this came out. He was a "political" general from the outset, bending with the prevailing wind....

    Obama's people admittedly played the race card, and it worked every time. The humiliation of Palin was a disgraceto any person of character. So who practices the politics of polarization, exactly?

    December 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. happy dude

    News for all my angry liberal friends. Your plan of ignorance will leave this country behind China, India and other countries. Stop all the foolish condescending proudful shouting.

    December 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  19. dustin

    a lot of whiney conservatives on here

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. Cat DS

    Wow! From the looks of all the polarized dogma-filled shouting in so many of these comments Powell's point is easily illustrated. He must have really touched a nerve among a lot of neocons with this comment.
    Of course Powell is right again. It would be best for all of us to live and learn, Republicans, but better for the Democrats if you don't.

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  21. Larry

    There's nothing funnier than liberals trying to tell Republicans how to run their party. The GOP listened and ran a liberal Republican of Powell's vein, and look where it got them. The Dems still called McCain a Nazi. The fact is that Rush Limbaugh is a conservative. Colin Powell is a bleeding heart liberal who pretends to be a conservative when it suits him. He's what's wrong with the GOP, not Limbaugh. The sooner the GOP can flush his ilk out of the party, the better. But I'm not holding out any hopes.

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. KR

    Now we know what he based his decision to support OBama on; it had nothing to do with experience or the right person for the job! Here is someone whos ideals have made a complete 180; how do you trust someone like that?

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. hampton in charleston

    Jackie in Dallas is right. For myself, I don't want the Republican Party to reach out to anyone, please stay the same !! I figure that tied in with a committed effort in this country toward education will make the Republican Party slowly fade into oblivion in 40 years or so,

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Gerhard Pasek

    What is CNN?

    December 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. nqi in va

    I am so tired of reading and hearing all the hate speech from the Democrats.

    December 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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