Politics

With Eyes On Rand And Hillary, John Bolton Says He Is Mulling Presidential Bid

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, tells The Daily Caller he is considering a run for president in 2016 as a Republican.

“I have not decided,” Bolton said in an interview. “And I don’t have a timetable on that.”

But Bolton, who flirted with running in 2012, expressed a desire for a Republican presidential candidate who is capable of taking on likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on national security issues.

“Obviously, if the Democrats nominate Hillary,” he said, “her principle ‘qualification’ is her time as secretary of state. So being able to dissect and explain to the voters why she fails as a leader, I think is going to be critical for whomever is interested in the Republican nomination.”

He also suggested he’s partly driven to consider a run because of the rising influence of “isolationism” in the party.

“I don’t think I have to make a decision as early as some others do,” Bolton said, “but I do think the threat of isolationism is still there in the party. And I think that’s something that is of very much concern to me.”

Asked if he was referring to the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, who is also expected to run for president, Bolton said: “I don’t personalize it so much.”

But Bolton went on to question whether Paul shares the same views on foreign policy as his father, former Texas Ron Paul. He was expressed incredulity about how Ron Paul recently gave an interview to “Russian state television” and said America doesn’t have “true democracy.”

“It’s just unbelievable,” Bolton said.

(In that interview, Ron Paul said: “Here at home, we don’t have true democracy. We have a monopoly of ideas that is controlled by the leaders of two parties. And they call it two parties, but it’s really one philosophy.”)

Bolton suggested Rand Paul will have to answer for statements like that made by his father.

“Ok, so does Rand Paul agree with that?” Bolton said. “We don’t really have true democracy here? I’d like to know the answer to that. This is the threat of isolationism. I think what you hear from Ron Paul is what the isolationist think, and so just asking his son what he thinks of everything his father says could be a full time business.”

Bolton said he plans to observe who gets in the presidential race, but for now, he’s not very satisfied with those often mentioned as likely candidates.

“Honestly,” he said, “I don’t see yet in the field — or of the people the great mentioner in the sky mentions — anybody who is really prepared to address the national security issues in the comprehensive way I hope they will be. Now, we don’t know who is in and who is out yet, so I want to see a little bit of what happens.”

More immediately, Bolton said he plans to continue ramping up his activities in the John Bolton PAC and SuperPAC. For the midterms, his PACs raised a combined $7.5 million. He endorsed 87 Republican candidates, contributed $470,000 directly to campaigns and spent $5 million on advertising.

Speaking of the midterm election results, which gave Republicans a majority in the Senate, Bolton said: “I think it was an overwhelming rejection of the president’s policies, but I think what was particularly interesting was the role that national security played in both in several specific elections but more broadly across the country.”

He specifically mentioned three GOP Senate candidates — Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — who he supported and won.

“I think where candidates — either because of their own backgrounds or their beliefs — stressed national security, they tended to do very well,” Bolton said.

“I think the general concern across the country that the Obama administration was not protecting America — whether it is from international terrorism or border security or Ebola or just in general the impression the world was getting more disorderly and therefore more threatening — it was a very powerful theme across the country,” Bolton said.

Part of Bolton’s efforts are aimed at showing candidates that people do care about national security.

“Political operative have been wrong for so long,” he said. “You know, they say, ‘oh foreign affairs are so distant from people’s everyday lives and doesn’t affect them.’ I give American voters more credit.”

“I just think they’re practical people,” he said. “They know they’re not going to get involved in the intricacies of some foreign crisis — that’s what they expect the people they send to Washington to do — but what they expect from the people they send to Washington, the president especially, is to be able to resolve these problems in a way that protects America and its people and its interest. And so when they see that not happening, or fear that it’s not happening, they equate it with a failure of leadership, and they respond accordingly.”

Follow Alex on Twitter