Former US secretary of state Colin Powell Thursday downplayed Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama's inexperience in foreign affairs, a key line of attack used by the Illinois senator's rivals.
"He didn't have a lot of experience in running a presidential campaign, did he? But he seems to know how to organize the task," Powell said in an interview with ABC News.
"He doesn't have experience at the senior levels of national government. But I've seen other individuals who have come along that didn't have that breadth of experience," Powell said.
The extent of Powell's remaining influence among US voters is not clear, as he is one of the figures most associated with the decision to wage war in Iraq, despite his well known qualms about military action abroad.
But his foreign policy experience, as a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staffs and secretary of state, outweighs that of any candidate in the 2008 White House race.
He was also one of the highest ranking African American public officials ever in US history.
Powell, a Republican, said he knew all of Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and had not yet decided who to vote for, comments which will further fan speculation he may back Obama.
The former secretary of state also said he though Obama had handled the furore over incendiary comments by his former preacher Jeremiah Wright well.
"I thought gave a very, very thoughtful, direct speech. I agree with much of what he said." (AFP)
Powell downplays Obama 'inexperience'