WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday questioned Mitt Romney's choice in foreign policy advisers, saying that some are so right-wing that the advice they give deserves "second thought."
"I don't know who all of his advisers are, but I've seen some of the names and some of them are quite far to the right. And sometimes they might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought," Powell said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
He gave the example of Romney recently saying that Russia is the "number one geopolitical foe" to the United States.
"Come on Mitt, think," Powell said. "That isn't the case."
Romney's team of about 40 foreign policy advisers includes many who hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, according to a May analysis conducted by the The Nation. Many were enthusiastic supporters of the Iraq War, and many are proponents of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran.
Powell, a retired four-star general and the only African American to have ever served as a member -- and the chairman -- of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he didn't know whether Romney really believes that Russia is the biggest threat to the U.S. or if his advisers told him to say that. "I don't know," he said when asked by "Morning Joe" hosts. "You ask him."
Powell hasn't signaled yet whom he plans to endorse in this election cycle. He broke with his party to support President Barack Obama in 2008, but he stayed mum when asked this week if he planned to do the same this time around. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama "appreciated" Powell's endorsement in 2008 and gave reasons why he should back Obama again.
Powell noted Wednesday that Romney has been "catching a lot of heck" from mainstream figures in the Republican foreign affairs community who he said "were kind of taken aback" by Romney's Russia claims.
"Look at the world. There is no pure competitor of the United States of America," he said. "All the problems we talk about in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran ... they count about 700 million people in a world of seven billion. What are the rest of them doing? They're increasing their economies, they're building wealth, they're educating their kids, they're building their infrastructure. That's what we need to be doing."