With an eye on 2016, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is stepping up his Super PAC game.
The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations raised over $800,000 in 2013 and is looking to make a big splash in the second quarter of this year when he’ll announce endorsements.
“We had a very, very good March,” Bolton said in an exclusive interview Monday, referring to fundraising numbers that still aren’t public. “We’ve got criteria and we’re evaluating candidates to support,” he added.
The hawkish Bolton isn’t exactly coy about where this is headed. “I don’t rule out at all getting in to Republican primaries,” he said. He also takes some not-so-veiled swipes at Senator Rand Paul, a leading 2016 contender with a libertarian lineage.
“I will support the Republican nominee for President in 2016 whether through grit of teeth or enthusiastically,” he said when asked about Paul, explaining the senator’s views by saying “a lot of Senators come [to Washington] without any national foreign policy experience.”
Bolton’s PACs – he has a normal political action committee and a Super PAC – are focused on rewarding hawkish candidates who are “determined to reverse the Obama policies of decline, retreat, and the mistrust of American exceptionalism,” according to Bolton’s website.
“There’s a lot of frustration out there [among Republicans] who sat out 2012,” Bolton told me.
Bolton added “there are two different ways to support candidates. One is through a PAC that makes direct contributions to campaigns. The Super PAC allows you to spend independently to support a candidate, so you can raise money independently [for that purpose.] I found that to be important. Democrats and their allies will have independent Super PACs.”
“I’m going to do it very differently,” Bolton told Breitbart News. “I’ve learned how much dissatisfaction there is from 2011. [There is] the feeling that a lot of the money was not well spent. My conclusion, particularly since we are talking about House and Senate races, is we will be very targeted, very focused. My operating assumption is we will have very narrowly targeted ads with a lot [of focus] on digital communications. I think really for younger voters that’s absolutely critical.”
Bolton noted “we’re focused on national security and not getting in to domestic economic or social issue the lay of the land in the national security field is very different…. Both tea party and establishment… subscribe to a Ronald Reagan view of the world.. my objective really is to maintain that kind of Republican party.”
Bolton believes that the Tea Party supports his Reaganite “peace through strength” approach to foreign policy. “Tea Party groups I’ve spoken to,” he said, “favor a strong America. Teddy Roosevelt famously said ‘we are first to make the world safe for ourselves.'”
Bolton, who at CPAC earlier this month called President Obama “our biggest national security risk,” said that the 2014 general election “is where control of the House and Senate become critical. The Constitution confirms primacy [in foreign policy] with the President, and primacy when it comes to money to Congress, which plays a critical role in stopping the president’s gutting of the defense budget. And the Senate has control over ratifying treaties. Obama has a whole host of bad treaties lined up.” The Senate, Bolton said, also has a role “in blocking irresponsible nominees.”
“The 2014 elections set the table for 2016,” Bolton added. ” If we have strong believers in national security [elected in 2014] they can help frame the 2016 election.”
Bolton said that if Republicans control both the House and Senate after the 2014 elections “I think there would be a lot more [push back against Obama’s policies] because in the Senate Harry Reid has brought the entire mechanism to a halt.” It is a situation, he said “the framers [of the Constitution] never imagined.”
Bolton continued his criticisms of President Obama’s weakness in response to Vladimir Putin’s aggressive foreign policy. “Eight years ago he [Putin] said the breakup of the Soviet Union was a great geopolitical catastrophe,” Bolton noted. Putin “intends to re-establish Moscow’s primacy. He’s not going to stop. . .He has a lot broader agenda in mind… across the board.”
Bolton said the motivation that caused him to consider running for president in the 2012 election still exists. “I did consider running for president back in 2011 and concluded the logistics were just too hard. The motivation–the lack of responsible date on foreign policy–is still a problem.”
Though he definitely is not ruling out a 2016 run, he said “I want to see how we do through this election cycle.”
Bolton was quick to point out that while he has never run for political office himself, he seems to be enjoying his initial foray into the political world through his PACs. “Raising money is a new thing for me,” he said. “I’ve found it very interesting to talk to people and hear the frustration they feel. A lot of people who were involved in 2012 are now sitting on the sidelines.”
In August 2013, Bolton made news in one area of domestic policy when he told National Review he supports gay marriage. “I support it, at both the state level and the federal level,” he said at the time. “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.”
“It has to do with a fundamental liberty basis of my philosophy,” Bolton told me.
Regardless of his political future, Bolton was emphatic on one point. “The mustache stays,” he said.