Bolton says no to presidential run

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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During a Tuesday night interview with Greta Van Susteren, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton ruled out making a presidential run in 2012. Bolton followed that appearance with an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, in which he said he would refocus his political energies on making foreign policy a larger part of campaign discussions.

“I have decided not to run for president,” Bolton told the Fox News host. “It was a very difficult decision and my view has not changed one iota that we need a much more robust discussion of national security issues as part of this presidential campaign. And I say that not because I have an abstract interest in foreign policy but because the policies that President Obama has been pursuing are extremely harmful to the nation now and into the future. And unless we start talking about them, I don’t think we are not going to be able to fix them with a new president.”

Asked by Van Susteren why he decided not to run, Bolton said it was because he came to the conclusion that he could not win.

“I kept coming to the conclusion that I couldn’t possibly win the nomination and I didn’t like that answer,” he said. “So I went back and revisited my assumptions and the data. I think I would of had a lot of support. I think I could have raised money. But I think the political commentariat here in Washington is convinced that foreign policy is not a winning issue. I don’t think that’s right.”

“Don’t get me wrong: I would love to be president,” Bolton continued. “But I didn’t get into this because of a desire to hold the office. I did it because I was, and remain, concerned that our nation is sleep-walking into crises internationally.” (RELATED: Leaders with Ginni Thomas: John Bolton)

Bolton said there isn’t a candidate who he is ready to endorse on foreign policy grounds, but he said that Texas Rep. Ron Paul was the one candidate whose foreign policy views were completely unacceptable.

In an interview with TheDC immediately following his Fox News appearance, Bolton said he wants to keep national security issues front-and-center during the campaign season.

“Obviously I am happy to talk to any of the potential Republican nominees, and I’ll decide sort of down the road whether or not to endorse any of them,” he said. “What I really want to concentrate on is increasing the discussion of national security.”

Asked by TheDC whether he hopes any potential candidate sitting on the sidelines would jump in the race, Bolton said he generally favors more candidates entering to increase the level of debate. When asked specifically about the possibility of Chris Christie, Sarah Palin or Rudy Giuliani jumping in, Bolton said he understands that the former New York mayor is still considering a run.

“Well, I‘ve known Rudy for a very long time and I think he is still considering getting in the race,” he said. “You know, believe me, having gone through this decision myself I understand what it is like to contemplate all these pluses and minuses. It is a very personal decision.”

Asked whether he is interested in being considered as a potential vice presidential nominee, Bolton said, “I haven’t really thought about any of that.” He said his main concern is what will happen if the Republican nominee wins the presidential race without having enunciated and debated a national security program in detail.

“If the Republican wins in 2012, if you haven’t had a real discussion about what his or her national security policies are going to be, it is a potential problem when they start rolling them out,” he said. “At least if you have had a discussion beyond the bumper-sticker level, nobody can claim a lack of legitimacy. The candidate will put his ideas out there and the people will have taken that into account as part of their overall calculus on how to vote.”

A relentless critic of President Obama’s foreign policy in print and as a commentator on Fox News, Bolton first indicated that he was considering entering the Republican presidential primary field in an August 2010 interview with The Daily Caller. He was worried at the time that with the economy in dire straights, Republican presidential contenders would ignore the pressing foreign policy challenges facing America in favor of focusing on economic issues.

“I want to make sure that, not only in the Republican Party but in the body politic as a whole, people are aware of threats that remain to the United States,” he said then.

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