John Bolton, in West Palm, says Obama shouldn’t be credited for Osama killby Andrew Abramson | September 9th, 2012
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, now a surrogate for the Romney campaign, was at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on Sunday to try to combat President Obama’s speech across the street at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
With voters continuing to give Obama higher marks than challenger Mitt Romney on national security, Bolton is trying to help Romney shape his national defense message. On Sunday, Bolton said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post that Obama doesn’t deserve the credit for killing Osama bin Laden.
“I don’t think the polls really are accurately reflecting what people really think,” Bolton said. “I think there’s a certain amount of justifiable American pride that we got bin Laden, and that has benefited Obama, but not because people seriously think he’s responsible for it.”
Bin Laden was killed in May 2011, more than two years after Obama took office. The operation was ordered by Obama and carried out by a CIA-led operation, after the CIA first discovered bin Laden’s likely whereabouts in Sept. 2010.
From the time he campaigned for the presidency, Obama said he wanted to shift the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, and he mentioned capturing bin Laden as a top priority. But Bolton said Sunday that bin Laden’s death did not happen because of Obama.
“Osama bin Laden was killed while Obama was president but not because of it,” Bolton said. “This was a long effort that really our military and intelligence can take credit for. Killing Osama bin Laden, I like comparing to Aldrin and Armstrong landing on the moon. It was the summer of ’69, six months into Richard Nixon’s presidency. It’s like him taking credit when John Kennedy started a program in 1961 of landing a man safely on the moon and returning to earth.”
Bolton said that Obama has basically been lucky that no major international incidents directly threatening the United States have occurred since Obama’s been in office.
“For 3 1/2 years the president just hasn’t talked about national security so people are not aware of the many challenges and threats we face abroad,” Bolton said. “If you think we’re in a relatively stable and environment, then you think the president must be doing a good job. But in fact, the opposite is true. The threats to our security has been ongoing.”
Bolton pointed to international terrorism and biological weapons that can be used to strengthen Russia and China, as well as ongoing concerns with Hugo Chavez, North Korea and Israel’s security as issues that will continue to threaten the United States.
“Whether we talk about it at the national level or not, these are relevant threats that have been growing and are going to be a problem in the next four years,” Bolton said. “The difficultly Republicans have had across the board is trying to make that point. … If we don’t deal with the budget deficit and national debt and get the economy growing, we can’t maintain a stronger presence internationally.”
Bolton said he believes that Obama will end the Cuban embargo early in his second term which he said would lessen the chance of Cuba becoming a democracy. Those who support ending the embargo say it would promote democracy in Cuba by bringing American ideals to the island, but Bolton said “Europeans have been trying that for a long time and it is not working.”
“Once Obama gets past these pesky borders and doesn’t have to worry about states like Florida, that’s his natural ideological inclination,” Bolton said. “He is a radical in many respects, and on national security is one of the areas where he’s most radical. I think he’d like to have (ended the embargo) in his first term, but circumstances weren’t there. I think he definitely will do it early in his second.”
Bolton said the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton on Oct. 23 will bring national security to the forefront. The 90-minute debate is supposed to focus on national security.
“I think there’s this bloc of people who are undecided that are very close to becoming Romney supporters,” Bolton said. “I think it’ll be a close election, but I’m pretty optimistic. I’m not overly optimistic, because you don’t want to be over confident. But I’m optimistic.”
Bolton, who served as U.N. Ambassador in 2005 and 2006 under President Bush and briefly considered running for president this year, was speaking in West Palm Beach where he spent weeks as an attorney for Bush during the Bush/Gore recount of 2000.
“Probably in professional terms that was one was more like an emotional roller coaster than anything else I could think of,” Bolton said. “In the morning you’d be very optimistic, by noon you’d be pessimistic and the next day optimistic again and it was like this day after day. The best think you can say about it is that we won. I don’t know the Democrats felt about the experience when they were done with it because they lost.”