August 14th, 2020


John Bolton's Swan Song

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published May 15, 2015

A GOP presidential field minus one: former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton isn’t running.

In something of a surprise (given that few Republicans have taken a pass), former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton has declared that he won’t run for president, begging the question of which Michael Bolton song best describes a courtship that won’t be:

1) A Time For Letting Go

2) I’m Not Ready

3) Nowhere To Run

4) You Don’t Want Me Bad Enough

At least the late Tom Dewey can rest in peace — he’s the last GOP presidential nominee to have sported a mustache, as does Bolton. Dewey’s last run was in 1948; there hasn’t been a presidential nominee with facial hair since then.

Bolton’s announcement continues what amounted to “foreign policy week” for the Republican hopefuls. That includes Marco Rubio outlining a approach that at least one conservative writer, Eliana Johnson, likened to the Truman Doctrine, Jeb Bush continuing to clarify his 20/20 hindsight answer on the Iraq invasion, plus Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul all piling on Bush.

If that sounds like a lot of bodies in motion . . . well, it is. About enough to fill a 40-man baseball roster.

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee launched a straw poll on its website asking this simple question: “who would you like to see as the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election?”

The choices (brace yourself, it’ll take a while to get through this):

1) Kelly Ayotte

2) Haley Barbour

3) John Bolton

4) Jeb Bush

5) Herman Cain

6) Ben Carson

7) Chris Christie

8) Ted Cruz

9) Mitch Daniels

10) Mark Everson

11) Carly Fiorina

12) Newt Gingrich

13) Lindsey Graham

14) Nikki Haley

15) Mike Huckabee

16) Bobby Jindal

17) John Kasich

18) Peter King

congratulations, you’re halfway there . . .

19) Susana Martinez

20) Sarah Palin

21) George Pataki

22) Rand Paul

23) Ron Paul

24) Tim Pawlenty

25) Mike Pence

26) Rick Perry

27) Condoleezza Rice

28) Mitt Romney

29) Marco Rubio

30) Brian Sandoval

31) Rick Santorum

32) Tim Scott

33) John Thune

34) Donald Trump

35) Scott Walker

36) Alan West

Two things to note about this list: a) it’s a compilation not meant to offend, which explains a lot of folks who aren’t interested in running; b) what, no Paul Ryan (or. for that matter, Greg Abbott)?

Meanwhile, there’s the question of how the GOP is going to pull off the televised spectacle of a dozen-or-so candidates crowding one debate stage for the first gathering in August, in Cleveland. Does the party exclude all candidates polling at 1% or less? Or, as some back-in-the-pack candidates would prefer, splitting the field in half and holding not one but two debates over consecutive nights?

That, and the question of format, which The New York Times examines here:

“It is not entirely clear who will be in charge of devising or enforcing the debate criteria - that is, if there are criteria. One member of the national committee panel charged with overseeing the debates said its members had discussed ceding the decision entirely to Fox News.

At issue is how to stage a substantive discussion that is fair to viewers and the campaigns. The party has little appetite for a forum so thick with candidates that it allows for not much more than an extended "lightning round" of questions. One Republican involved in the process said a 90-minute forum with 10 candidates would offer each candidate only four to five minutes, after subtracting commercials and moderator time.”

Sounds like there’s a good debate awaiting Republicans . . . in advance of that first Republican debate.

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: “The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain.” During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.