The Corner

Bolton for President: A ‘Goldwater Conservative’

John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells National Review Online that he is seriously considering a 2012 presidential run. “I am a Goldwater conservative,” he says. “I am not a professional politician. I don’t anticipate running a typical kind of campaign, if I do make that decision.”

In an interview this morning in his Washington office, Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime diplomat, opened up about a potential campaign, discussing his views on foreign policy and domestic affairs. “I just don’t think that a Republican can convincingly oppose the president using talking-point platitudes,” Bolton tells us. As he looks at his options, Bolton says that he wants to “shape the debate, and hopefully make an impact on the national-security issues.”

On the domestic front, “I think that the level of federal spending, taxation, and regulation is way too high,” Bolton says. “It got way too high before the Obama administration. I think that our objective should be lower taxes and lower federal spending. . . . We have got to get the aggregate impact of the federal government on our economy way below what it is now and, in fact, below Bush 43 administration levels. Much of the spending should be decided at the state and local levels. So I would push the federal share of the economy much lower than it was even at the beginning of the Bush administration. . . . My philosophy is not a bean-counting, accounting ‘look at this.’ It is a philosophy that smaller government is better government, and government that is closer to the people is best of all.”

“I think in the last two years, President Obama has deliberately, consciously downplayed the threats that the United States faces in the world. I don’t think he’s interested in national security,” Bolton continues. “I think it is very important that whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be, they’re able to stand toe-to-toe with the president in the debates in 2012.”

Bolton says that he has been thinking about a 2012 challenge since early 2009, soon after President Obama first took office. “I don’t think he fundamentally believes that it is his job to advance American interests,” he says. “What voters have to focus on is what will happen in the one-on-one between the Republican nominee and Barack Obama.”

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