Republican presidential contender Gov. Scott Walker is seen as a top presidential pick with one big weakness: a lack of foreign policy experience. As a Midwestern governor critics say he hasn’t built the foreign policy chops necessary to lead in our tumultuous world, but former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has one thing to say to those critics.
You’re underestimating him.
In a sit-down interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, Bolton said some people assume Walker lacks foreign policy credibility, and Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton’s got a long tenure at State to hold over his head.
But not so fast.
“When it comes to foreign policy, Hillary has such a long string of notable failures and scandals, that what is often overlooked is … while she was at the State Department and the Obama Administration, the Middle East fell into turmoil, we alienated our close ally, Israel, Russia set the stage for war and expanding its influence in Europe, and China expanded their island building in international waters,” Bolton said.
Russia, Israel, China and the Middle East are at the very least four pretty big weaknesses to exploit, he said. Clinton, in Bolton’s view, lacks the ability to make the big, tough policy decisions.
“I think foreign policy, in many respects for many voters, is a surrogate for leadership,” Bolton told TheDCNF. “The voters are not going to get involved in the intricacies, they don’t care if somebody can name the prime minister of Uganda, that’s not really the test for them. They want to look at the candidates and say ‘I think that one can make the big decisions.'”
Upon taking office, Walker made a series of big moves on labor policy that led to a complete political firestorm. Still, Walker remained steadfast.
“The unions threw everything they had against him three times, and he beat them, and he’s accomplished a lot in Wisconsin,” Bolton told TheDCNF.
Bolton disagreed with the assumption that senators automatically have an advantage over governors in foreign policy.
“I think they may have more knowledge of foreign and defense policy from serving in Washington,” Bolton told TheDCNF. “But I just speak from my perspective. I’ve spent my government career in the executive branch and that’s why many people view governors as better potential presidents, because unlike Obama, who gives a great speech about how to get from A to B, he doesn’t have the slightest idea of how to get from A to B, whereas governors or executive officials, corporate officers in the private sector, understand you can’t stop at giving a speech, then you have to actually do what you say ought to be done.”
Bolton describes the Republican candidates, aside from Rand Paul, as all in the “very broad mainstream of Republican foreign policy.”
Bolton, who reiterated that he will not be running for president, made it clear that he is not endorsing any candidates. A future nod from Bolton, however, would go a long way to counter the narrative that Walker doesn’t have what it takes in the foreign policy realm.
Bolton is seen on the right as a go-to expert on foreign policy, and said he has received calls from candidates who he is happy to advise.
“I think the most important thing a president needs to have is leadership and judgement and you can’t learn that form a book, you have to demonstrate it,” Bolton told TheDCNF.
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