-- Secretary of State John Kerry is happy to avoid what he calls the “hurly burly” of the 2016 presidential race, especially on the day when his predecessor Hillary Clinton is expected to announce the start of her presidential campaign.
While Kerry praised Clinton for having done a “terrific job” as secretary of state, he also said it wasn't his job to defend her record. He added that it was important for him to avoid discussing the race so he can “speak to both sides of the aisle about our foreign policy without being involved in partisan politics.”
“As you know, the secretary of state, happily, is able to not be involved in the presidential hurly burly. I’m not going to get involved in it now,” Kerry told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" today. “I wish her well in this race and I look forward to being able to stay well away from it.”
Kerry said that during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton rebuilt alliances “that had been shredded over the course of the prior years” and helped negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza and made the initial contacts with Iran.
Kerry added that Clinton will defend "her own record for herself" while responding to Republicans who have criticized her performance in the State Department.
"It's not my job to do it," he said.
Kerry also discussed comments made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that seemed to backtrack from the nuclear framework deal reached last week. He pointed to a Russian statement that the U.S. interpretation of the deal was “reliable and accurate information.”
Russia is one of the six countries negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.
Kery indicated Khameini’s comments was Iranian posturing similar to the “dueling narratives” that emerged last December after the initial interim agreement was reached.
“They’re going to put their spin on their point of view and obviously they’ll allege that we’re putting a spin on our point of view,” he said. "But I will stand by every fact that I have stated publicly."
Kerry noted that when the interim deal was finally implemented “it was the agreement that we had articulated and it has been the agreement that has been kept.”
“I don’t want to get into a back and forth publicly,” he said. “I don’t think it serves any purpose.”
Kerry said he will brief Congress on the deal this week and lay out a full understanding of the agreement.
"If it isn’t the understanding," he said, "we're not going to sign an agreement."
Kerry sidestepped any reaction to criticism from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that his interpretation of the deal was “delusional” and deferred to President Obama’s defense in Panama.
"I think President Obama spoke very, very powerfully to Senator McCain yesterday, and I'll let the president's words stand," he said. "And I will let the final agreement speak for itself."