WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday for taking advice from foreign policy advisers who are “quite far to the right” in an sign of lingering strains from his tenure under President George W. Bush.
Powell is a moderate Republican who endorsed President Barack Obama in his 2008 bid for the White House. He has said he has not decided who he will endorse this year - Obama or Romney.
But he made clear that he is not happy with some of the neo-conservatives who are advising Romney.
Powell has said it was “blot” on his record when the Bush administration dispatched him in 2003 to the United Nations to provide testimony on Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war there.
Powell’s argument was essential in shaping the U.S. case for why a war was needed in Iraq. No such weapons of mass destruction were ever found.
“I don’t know who all of his advisers are but I’ve seen some of the names and some are quite far to the right and sometimes they, I think, might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought,” Powell told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Romney’s advisers include some veterans of the Bush administration. An informal outside adviser is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. Of 24 “special advisers” on national security and foreign policy, 16 served in diplomatic or political roles for Bush.
Powell took particular exception to a recent comment from Romney that Russia is the top U.S. geopolitical threat.
“Come on Mitt, think! That isn’t the case,” said Powell.
Reporting By Steve Holland