Politics & Policy

Bolton Passes on Presidential Run

But he may still work to make sure Rand Paul isn't the nominee.

Former U.S. ambassador John Bolton announced today that he will not run for president, though he may still use his super PAC and nonprofit organizations to ensure that a national-security hawk wins the Republican nomination.

“The people that want to be the nominee of the party have to demonstrate that they feel in their gut that protecting the country is the president’s first job,” Bolton told reporters on a Thursday conference call.

He said that couldn’t be him because Americans tend to support politicians who have held political office. “I’m not really complaining about the fact that there is a political class in the country; that’s a reality,” he said. “I wish Godspeed to all the other people who are going to get in who aren’t conventional politicians, but I did conclude in my own circumstances it just was not workable.”

The former ambassador to the United Nations said he doesn’t plan to endorse any GOP hopeful, but he didn’t hesitate to take a swipe at Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.). “The more people learn his foreign-policy views, the more his support will decline,” Bolton predicted. “His principles seem to be in conflict with his ambition.”

He hinted at the possibility of using a super PAC or other non-profit organizations to target Paul during the primary process.

#related#“Through the different vehicles, under what they’re allowed to do under their applicable regulations, we’re going to be talking about the issues and the candidates as we’re permitted to do,” he said.

Bolton said he’ll advise any presidential candidate who asks for his help, though — he’s already consulted with Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), for instance.

Some problems might be insoluble for the next president, though. In South Carolina last weekend, Bolton suggested President Obama’s policies have contributed to a situation in which Iran already has the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.

“The Iranians are not rushing to build one or two nuclear weapons; when they decide they’re going to weaponize, they’ll build scores or hundreds of nuclear weapons and they’ll do it in a very short period of time,” he said during a press conference at the South Carolina Freedom Summit. “The only issue is whether Israel will, as it has twice before done, attack this nuclear weapons program in the hands of a hostile state.”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review Online.

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