While John Bolton, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, has spent years looking like he was winding up for a presidential run in 2016, he has decided he will not seek the White House after all.
On Thursday, Bolton announced his un-presidential campaign in a video message uploaded to his Facebook page.
"As I look forward, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for president. I believe I can make the strongest contribution to our future by continuing as a clear and consistent advocate for a strong Reaganite foreign policy that values peace through strength," Bolton said in the video.
"And that's not all," he continued. "While I'm not a candidate, I'm certainly not going to sit this election out. As in 2014, I'll be supporting national security candidates, and stressing those issues in the Senate and House campaigns. I'm also going to focus on the 2016 presidential race to make certain foreign policy is critical to winning the nomination."
While the average voter (and even the average political reporter) may have had little clue who Bolton is, that did not deter him from an aggressive pre-campaign travel schedule. Since last fall, he had already made five trips to New Hampshire, along with two trips apiece to Iowa and South Carolina.
Bolton would have added a deeply hawkish foreign policy perspective to the race. During his time in the Bush administration, he enjoyed Vice President Dick Cheney's favor, but his extremely conservative mentality—he recently called for the U.S. to bomb Iran—isolated him from other White House officials.
Unlike Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina—who all announced their presidential bids within days of each other last week—Bolton appears to be the first long-shot Republican of the 2016 cycle to bow out. Other Republicans who have said thanks, but no thanks: Rep. Paul Ryan, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and some guy named Mitt Romney.
Still, this is shaping up to be a Kitchen Sink Primary. There are six Republicans who have already announced presidential runs, and an ever-growing field of nearly 20 potential primary candidates. Add former Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee to the mix on the Democratic side, and that's a lot of national candi-whos?
That there had been very little polling data on Bolton—even in polls that include the lesser-known Republican competitors—was telling in itself. Bolton may have made a wise choice, and saved himself money and peace of mind in the process. His best shot was to chase the small share of primary voters who simply say they want to support "someone else."
One clue that could have tipped off observers to Bolton's un-candidacy: his lack of a Web presence. As of press time, the website JohnBolton.org redirected to a Game of Thrones wiki about (what else?) House Bolton.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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