Why John Kerry thinks the election campaign has been 'downright embarrassing' for the United States

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With just over a week to go until the United States declares who will pick up the presidential gauntlet from Barack Obama next January, John Kerry has said that elements of this year's election campaign have been "downright embarrassing".

The US Secretary of State made the comments at a Facebook Live Q&A with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, at London's City Hall on Monday, revealing concerns over the US presidential election and Britain's future stake in the world after Brexit.

The 2016 campaign

(Yui Mok/PA)
Kerry has been an admirer of London and said he's visited over 30 times since being Secretary of State (Yui Mok/PA)

Kerry, whose role as Secretary of State bars him from being partisan for election purposes, trod carefully when speaking about this year's oft-unconventional election, but said it had been extraordinary by US standards.

He said: "I must tell you bluntly, this election has been difficult for our country's perception abroad. There are moments when it is downright embarrassing. I could never imagine debates that were not focused on real issues."

Kerry said he understood the sense of upheaval in the States as being a reaction against the political system not "getting things done", but said he was feeling positive about America's ability to pull through difficult times.

He said: "The great thing about the United States is that it is amazingly resilient. I'm really confident about the longer term future."

Respect for your opponent

(Steven Senne/AP)
Kerry said that William Weld had been among his political opponents with whom he had shared a mutual respect (Steven Senne/AP)

Asked which opponent he'd respected despite his political differences, Kerry recalled a battle he'd fought in 1996 when he'd stood for re-election as the governor of Massachusetts against William Weld.

The two men had a bet that the loser would buy the winner a round of beers. Two days after Kerry prevailed, he was at a bar with Weld enjoying a more relaxed talk than the campaign trail had allowed for in earlier weeks.

Does anyone suppose Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be doing the same thing?

Confident about Brexit?

(Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
Kerry has previously cast doubt on the process for Brexit, saying that Britain could still "walk back" from the decision (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

When the issue of London's world status was raised, Kerry was quick to point out that there was a lot still to be worked out. Despite being certain about London's greatness as a world-leading city, Kerry said that he was concerned that Britain should remain as strong after the Brexit process.

He said: "I want to make sure that whatever happens with the Brexit process, I want Britain to remain strong. What your mayor's doing, what your city's already done is brilliant."

Kerry has previously been criticised for suggesting that Britain might be able to back out of the referendum result, saying that Leave campaigners did not truly believe or know how to achieve a clean break with the European Union.