Former UN ambassador John Bolton says he is still considering jumping into the Republican presidential primary field with the intention of making foreign policy the top agenda item discussed among his potential rivals.
In an interview previewing his trip to New Hampshire next week, Bolton said that while the Republican Party appears to be rethinking its branding after two straight losses in presidential elections, he wants to make sure the GOP still stands for strong, interventionist foreign policy.
This view from Bolton, who served under President George W. Bush, has been increasingly questioned by a war-weary electorate and by some in his own party, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, another potential candidate for president.
When he began exploring a run for president last year, Bolton said he wasn’t sure how many Republicans wanted to pull the United States back from conflicts around the globe, but now he believes that group is small.
“Inside the party the neo-isolationists strand is pretty thin.” Bolton said.
“To me Rand Paul looks increasingly isolated on foreign policy. There may be a pretty decent libertarian segment of the party when it comes to economics and social policy, but not when it comes to foreign policy. I think people will increasingly pull away from him based on his national security views.”
A Paul spokeswoman declined to respond.
Many inside the party viewed Bolton’s potential campaign as a reaction to Paul’s likely candidacy. But Bolton said he would make his decision independent of Paul’s. “If Rand Paul were to announce today that he wasn’t running I would still be interested,” Bolton said.
He said last fall’s elections, particularly some high-profile contests for US Senate, proved pundits wrong when they claimed that voters don’t care about national security.
“In fact voters in the last election cared a lot about national security, ISIS in particular,” Bolton said.
Bolton is scheduled to address business leaders in New Hampshire next week before visiting a local conservative think tank and a lunch in Concord.