London-The U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has called the country’s presidential election “downright embarrassing.”
Kerry made his comments during a Q&A for London sixth-formers alongside Mayor Sadiq Khan, who met him at London’s City Hall on Monday.
“This election has been difficult for our country’s perception abroad. There are moments when it is downright embarrassing,” he said as he explained the impact of 2016 elections on U.S. relations abroad.
“There are times when it steps out of any norm that I’ve known, and I ran for president in 2004,” Kerry said.
“I could never have imagined debates that were not focused real issues. So, it’s been a real change.”
The race for the White House has turned increasingly toxic, with Donald Trump fueling wild conspiracy theories about vote “rigging” and Hillary Clinton warning that the provocative billionaire was straying into authoritarianism.
He said the candidates were making it difficult for him to carry out his foreign policy work for Barack Obama’s government.
Kerry said: “When you sit down with some foreign minister in another country, or with the president or prime minister of another country, and you say, ‘Hey, we really want you to move more authoritatively towards democracy’, they look at you.
“They’re polite, but you can see the question in their head and in their eyes and in their expressions. It’s hard.
“Or you run in and you say, ‘By the way, it’s really important you guys get your budget passed,” and I can see the quizzical look at us. So this is a difficult moment.”
Kerry was in London to accept an international diplomatic prize from the Chatham House think tank, which he was jointly awarded with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for their part in the Iranian nuclear deal.
He also co-hosted a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Libya attended by the Libyan prime minister and representatives of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.