WASHINGTON – John Kerry is being challenged to give up the names of foreign leaders he says want President Bush out of the White House.
The Democratic presidential contender has declined to name any international leaders who have voiced support for sending him to the White House, but said it's clear to even casual observers of foreign policy issues that this country's standing has sagged internationally.
"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," Kerry said Sunday. "I have heard from people, foreign leaders elsewhere in the world who don't appreciate the Bush administration and would love to see a change in the leadership of the United States."
Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) on Sunday challenged the Massachusetts senator to name names.
"I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about. It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names," Powell said on "Fox News Sunday." "If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."
Pressed on the issue on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, Kerry refused to name any leaders who back his campaign, saying he won't violate the confidence of those who spoke to him privately.
"No leader would obviously share a conversation if I started listing them," said Kerry. "The point is that all across the world, America is meeting with a new level of hostility."
"There are relationships that have been broken," Kerry said at a town hall meeting.
He also wouldn't say at what level he had spoken with officials. "I'm not going to play that game," said Kerry, who said private conversations should stay that way.
"I don't think Colin Powell or the president would start listing the names of those who said something critical," said Kerry. "I think the people of the United States understand that we have lost some of the good will that we had extended to us immediately after Sept. 11."
Powell also said it was "just absurd" for Kerry to have suggested that the administration held up for political purposes the announcement of an agreement with Libya (search) to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.
"That took time to bring that deal together and I've been following it very, very closely for a number of months," Powell said. "And when finally the United States and the United Kingdom negotiators got a deal with Libya, we acted on that deal and we announced that deal. It was not held up for any campaign or political purpose."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search), meanwhile, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the president has told Powell and him not to get involved in the re-election campaign.
"He thinks that it's best if his secretary of state and his secretary of defense tend to their responsibilities and not allow their departments to become enmeshed in the campaign," Rumsfeld said.
"It's obviously difficult if those issues become prominent and we have to discuss those issues, but we will be doing it in a manner that is not campaign-style at all," Rumsfeld said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.