Fans of the 'stache, rejoice. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and foreign policy analyst John Bolton is contemplating a 2016 presidential run. National Review's Robert Costa reports:
How serious is John Bolton about potentially running for president? He’s about to start hiring for his political operation. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and conservative star is ready to hit the road, play in the 2014 midterm elections, and flesh out his domestic-policy views —including his support for gay marriage — in preparation for throwing his hat in the ring in 2016...He wants to be president of the United States, or, at the very least, a provocative contender for the Republican nomination in 2016. “My hypothesis is that voters are practical and they care more about national security than the media seems to believe; I think, right now, especially after two terms of President Obama, they want a president who has the know-how to lead during a crisis, a president who can defend our national interests,” he says.
When I mention that such a bid, however well intentioned, would be fraught with difficulty, Bolton immediately acknowledges that the idea of a run sounds fanciful — even to his wife and daughter, who have expressed their own reservations. “It’d maybe be a little unorthodox,” he admits. And until now, he has kept quiet about his brewing plan, so as not to invite scorn from his critics until he gets his political shop up and running. But these days, he thinks about it nearly daily, and the prospect excites him more than any other project has since his time at the U.N. Soon enough, he says, he’ll be talking more about it at rubber-chicken dinners, so now’s as fitting a time as any to be more candid. Over the past few months, Bolton confides, he has called veteran Republican strategists and friends from the Bush years, informally pitching them on what he envisions as a policy-driven, hawkish campaign.
“You may recall that I thought about running back in late 2011, and looked into it, but since running for president has become this massive, four-year endeavor, [and] I didn’t have an operation in place, I decided against it,” Bolton says. “Then I ended up watching the Republican debates, and I got furious when I saw Herman Cain being asked about pizza before he was asked about foreign policy. I thought to myself, ‘This is horrible. We’re letting the media run these debates, and no one is discussing the issues...After that, I sat back and thought that if I had the chance, I had to do something more for my party and my country than idly watching as the debate on foreign policy and America’s role in the world devolves into these bumper-sticker slogans, or veers toward the isolationist undercurrent that’s growing,” he continues. “That means forming a political-action committee and a super PAC, hitting the road and speaking out, and looking into my own campaign, and I’m doing all of that.” For now, Bolton, officially speaking, is a one-man exploratory campaign, but he hopes to hire a small staff in the coming months. A few hires are already on his radar, but he declines to name them. “Bottom line, I’m going to play in 2014 races, testing whether a foreign-policy-focused political organization or candidacy can find a way to shape the national debate,” he says.
“I have the advantage or disadvantage of having never run before, and I speak in longer sentences than you find on Twitter,” he says. “But that’s part of my hypothesis. People are ready for something with more depth.” On domestic issues, he says, he’s a self-proclaimed “libertarian,” which he knows will jar people who think he’s interested in running purely to irk Senator Rand Paul, another likely 2016 candidate and Bolton’s ideological opposite on foreign policy. “My argument is that you can’t protect your liberties at home unless we are protected internationally,” he says. “I think that argument can have currency across the Republican spectrum.” “I can go to voters and tell them, without reservation, that I’m for limited government, as much as possible, on taxes, on regulations, but on foreign policy, I want to make sure we’re protected,” Bolton explains. “It’d be a mix of being against nanny-ism and libertarianism. On abortion, I’m about the same as Reagan; I’m against it except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. On gay marriage, I support it, at both the state level and the federal level. Gay marriage is something I’ve thought about at length as I’ve looked at my future. I concluded, a couple years ago, that I think it should be permissible and treated the same at both levels.”
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography