John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has become one of the conservative movement's most influential and vocal opponents of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, The New York Times
The hawkish Fox News contributor has been particularly visible in the discussion about Iraq, blaming the Obama administration's decision to withdraw troops in 2011 for the crisis gripping the country.
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"If Mr. Bolton's proclivities toward interventionism seem antiquated in a war-weary nation now struggling to properly meet the needs of veterans, his views are a balm to traditional conservatives in Congress and beyond who worry about the ascent of libertarians within the party, like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who lean more isolationist," Jennifer Steinhauer of the Times wrote.
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham praised Bolton for being a "good, clear voice on peace through strength."
Meanwhile, Bolton's influence is also increasing through the two PACs he's running designed to promote his policy agenda. One of his PACs raised over $585,000 since January, and the other has raised $1.3 million.
"I called him a few weeks ago," Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio told the Times. "And thanked him for getting engaged in the debate."
In the 1990s, Bolton was known for having an abrasive style and hard-line positions, something which has ruffled the feathers of opponents and cost him a permanent position at the United Nations. But Bolton's admirers say he has excelled in diplomacy.
"Mr. Bolton's fans say that his infamous talk aside, he gets too little credit for contributions to diplomacy, and that he has earned his right to press his party to pay attention to foreign affairs," Steinhauer wrote.
Jackie Wolcott, executive director of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, who worked for Bolton at the United Nations, told the Times, "He had such a good reputation because he really could run rings around most people in a negotiation."
She credited Bolton with securing the referral of the Iran nuclear issue to the Security Council.
"That was a big deal. Many countries didn't want to recognize this was a true threat, and he was one of the first to convince even our European colleagues to confront it," she said.
But detractors continue to criticize his positions. For example, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Times, "He is definitely out of step with the mainstream on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program."
Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, told the newspaper, "He oversaw some of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history." He added, "He has just been wrong on every issue."
Bolton is flirting with a run for the presidency, and according to the Times, "Few even in his own party think Mr. Bolton has much chance to win a single state in a Republican primary."
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