Denver – If Amb. John Bolton decides to mount a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, foreign policy and national defense will clearly be a cornerstone in his bid.
However, when asked point blank by Centennial Institute founder and event organizer John Andrews about a possible run, Bolton refrained from any conclusive statement, tipping his hand only as to how he thought the eventual Republican nominee should be prepared to challenge Pres. Barack Obama.
“I’ve never run for public office in my life. So this is an enormous decision. But I feel very passionately that the protection of the United States in the world is the president’s highest obligation, and we have a president now who is not doing that,” said Bolton.
Referring to the inevitable debates in the fall of 2012, Bolton noted that the Republican nominee needs to be prepared to take Obama to task on foreign and defense policy. “By that time, President Obama will have pretended to be commander-in-chief for almost four years. He is a good actor,” said Bolton. But the nominee must prove his or her strong credentials in this area and pounce on a clear opportunity, Bolton argued.
“If the Republican nominee is not prepared to go head-to-head with him, and show that that nominee is capable of leading us in a challenging world, Obama will emerge from that debate with a bigger advantage,” Bolton declared.
Bolton’s speech featured a wide-ranging discussion on nuclear proliferation in Iran, America’s alliance with Israel, and how Obama’s foreign-policy views have diverged drastically from presidential tradition.
“If you think we’re in a crisis now about coming up on a debt ceiling, imagine a crisis where we face terrorists or rogue states with nuclear weapons. That is the definition of crisis,” Bolton argued. It is critically important, according to Bolton, to restore America’s national security “to the very top” of the list of our nation’s priorities.
Bolton remained focused on what he believed was the key source of America’s perceived weakness abroad — the current administration.
“We have a crisis of leadership in the White House. We have a president who is not qualified to lead us in national security,” Bolton said to strong applause from the audience.
In Bolton’s estimation, while Obama’s attention has primarily fallen on transforming the American economy, his diminished views on American exceptionalism have lead him to ignore national security interests at America’s peril.
“We have a president who thinks that American decline is natural, is inevitable,” said Bolton. “National security, for President Obama, comes primarily from his devout belief in multilateralism as the protection for America.”
“What’s provocative to our adversaries around the world is American weakness,” Bolton concluded.
The closest Bolton came to deviating from a typical policy briefing was in a line sure to be incorporated into the stump speech from the eventual GOP nominee, even if that person is not Bolton himself.
“It’s time we got a real president in the White House. And it’s time we got a president less concerned about being a citizen of the world, and more concerned about defending America,” said Bolton, as cheers erupted from the crowd.