“It is really bad that I most often get to go on television or talk to the media when horrible tragedies happen,” 4DPAC President Jim Arkedis said. “…There are big debates going in the national security and foreign policy world, and we have to understand that even though we’re pushing a larger world view and vision, there are strategic and tactical opportunities that we have to be prepared to respond to.”
His group is also responding to Republicans’ proposals, putting out a statement that pivots from current events to candidates’ reactions: “4DPAC condemns the horrific loss of life in Paris and endorses a swift military response against ISIS. … Calls from several U.S. governors to halt the relocation of Syrian refugees to their states are misguided and serve only to fuel xenophobia.”
Arkedis said 4DPAC has been planning since before Paris to ramp up its assessment of candidates in January. Should those candidates share the group’s values (and stand a chance of winning), they’ll receive direct contributions from funding pulled from recurring small-dollar donors.
VoteVets, Chairman Jon Soltz said, plans to put pressure on politicians such as Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both of whom advocated for giving weapons to Syrian rebels that have ended up in the hands of ISIS. He said they’ll also hold presidential candidates “accountable for just complete nonsense,” citing Carly Fiorina’s hawkish stance on Russia or Ben Carson’s assertions that China is involved in the Syrian civil war. He said the group would “dig into” gun control as a matter of national security, referencing domestic attacks on Forts Hood and Dix as well as an al-Qaeda video explaining gun-show loopholes.
“I don’t feel vindicated,” Soltz said. “I just think this [the Paris terrorist strike] is completely predictable.” He later added: “I think you’ll see what we always do, which is spend millions of dollars holding accountable politicians that, you know, don’t support the positions that we think work.”
After a summer and early fall dominated by discussion of economics, immigration policy, and Donald Trump’s seemingly endless string of mini-feuds, the groups hope for renewed attention on their issue—as well as increased support for their policies and candidates. A national Bloomberg Politics poll released Thursday found a plurality of adults (21 percent) considered ISIS the country’s most pressing issue.
That opens up a rare opportunity for people like Bolton, who had a frenetic schedule on Monday. He made the rounds on Fox News and prolifically tweeted about upcoming TV appearances and his op-ed posted on Fox News’s website.
“I just absolutely disagree with the conventional wisdom of the political class—the operatives and the commentators—who say that people don’t care about foreign policy,” Bolton said. “I think that’s what they think in Washington. I think the people are way ahead of their so-called political leaders.”