John Bolton’s Super PAC Makes First Ad Buy, Hitting N.H. Dem on Benghazi

by Patrick Brennan

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton’s super PAC has made its first independent expenditure in behalf of a candidate, going after a vulnerable Democratic representative from New Hampshire.

Bolton’s super PAC is spending $30,000 running an online ad against Ann Kuster, hitting her over comments she made at a Manchester, N.H. town hall last year in which she appeared to know little about the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Bolton has formed two PACs this year and made a number of endorsements to raise the profile of national-security and foreign-policy issues in this fall’s elections.

He hasn’t been shy about the possibility that this could be laying the ground for a presidential bid, and landing his first expenditure in New Hampshire is just another sign of those ambitions.

At a December 2013 event, Representative Kuster read out loud a question from a constituent about whether she supported a bill to authorize a select committee on Benghazi, and responded that it was a Senate matter, not a House one. Most bizarrely, she ignored the question about the Middle Eastern issue because she was at the event to talk about the Middle East. (The full video of her answer is here.)

Kuster is considered one of the more vulnerable House Democrats this cycle: She won the seat in 2012 by just five points, defeating a Republican incumbent, and the district is rated D+3 by the Cook Political Report. A number of Republican candidates are vying to face off against her in the general election, but Bolton hasn’t endorsed a particular one of them.

“This is the first of what will be many independent expenditures by the John Bolton Super PAC to ensure that American security is a central factor in the 2014 midterm elections,” the committee said in a statement. Bolton’s super PAC and PAC have done some impressive fundraising so far, raking in $4 million in donations and holding $3 million cash on hand.

“That she was unable to address her constituents’ questions about the Benghazi tragedy is shocking at best,” Bolton said in a statement. “Having a basic understanding of the Middle East and America’s security concerns in Benghazi should be a fundamental qualification to be in Congress and Ann Kuster should know better. New Hampshire deserves an informed representative who isn’t afraid to take a lead on both domestic and foreign affairs.”

Bolton has made a number of endorsements of candidates this year, including Republican Senate hopefuls Tom Cotton (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Teri Lynn Land (Mich.).

The two PACs emphasize foreign-policy and national-security issues; Bolton has argued that they’re of more political relevance than many commentators are willing to grant. The former U.N. ambassador has suggested he’d consider running for president in 2016 on a platform based on reasserting American leadership around the world, and his activity so far this election cycle indicates he hasn’t stopped thinking seriously about such a campaign.