SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Retired Gen. Colin Powell marched off the Republican National Convention stage and into cyberspace Monday night, but only stuck around long enough to answer a single question.

A user logged on as Pilgrim asked the general whether he planned to run for president in 2000. After a long delay, this response appeared:

``i don,t know yet. I am enjoying private life and believe the decision my family and i made last year to not enter politics at this time was the right one.

``But in a country as wonderful and full of opportunity as ours, you never know what the future holds. For now I will continue to concentrate on charitable and educational activities as a way to continue serving the country.''

About 10 minutes into Powell's joint appearance with Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., an anonymous moderator told the 52 people logged into the Republican Internet chat site that both men ``had another commitment and had to leave the chat room.''

It was an inauspicious debut for the site, which had sought to draw in people beyond San Diego's small convention hall. The chat, which allowed people to type questions and wait for typed replies, was scheduled to last 30 minutes.

Internet surfers, many of whom spent three hours waiting for Powell, were infuriated by the abrupt cancellation, as well as the three-minute delay before a question was answered.

``That was not very polite of them,'' said a user identified as Sopwith. ``They treat us as if we are a joke.''