WASHINGTON – Two days after criticizing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) on U.S. television, Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) told teenagers in India on Tuesday "I don't do politics" when asked to comment on Kerry's stand on outsourcing jobs.
Powell, meeting with teens in New Delhi during a visit to India, suggested that Kerry has a habit of flip-flopping on the issue of outsourcing. India has benefited from jobs in the U.S. service industry, and job export has become an issue in the presidential campaign.
"I'm not sure what his views are from day to day," Powell said, adding that he has known the four-term Massachusetts senator since Powell's days as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Now he is a political candidate and I'm secretary of state, and I don't do politics."
On Sunday, Powell called on Kerry to name the foreign leaders the senator has claimed want him as the next president. "If he can't list names," the secretary told Fox News, "then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."
Kerry has declined to name the leaders, arguing against betraying their confidences.
In the same interview, Powell said it was "just absurd" for Kerry to have suggested that the Bush administration held up for political purposes the announcement of an agreement with Libya to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.
In an ABC interview Sunday, Powell dismissed Kerry's charge that administration policies in Afghanistan and Iraq have alienated allies. "You know, it is a political year. We are seeing a campaign unfold," he said.
Last week in a National Public Radio interview, Powell rejected as "absolute nonsense" Kerry's claim that Powell has been undercut by Vice President Dick Cheney and other hawks in the administration.