Former Ambassador John Bolton says he's perplexed at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's surprise decision to hold a special election to replace late Sen. Frank Lautenberg instead of appointing a Republican.
"I'm mystified by this decision," Bolton said on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"It is just mind-boggling and it will expose him to criticism from nearly everybody -- and that's what happens when you make a decision that's too cute by half."
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Christie on Tuesday set a special election for October to fill the seat of Lautenberg, a move that could cost taxpayers as much as $20 million. He will appoint someone to temporarily fill in, but hasn't said who yet.
"One of the important aspects of electing a state governor is the prospect that he can fill vacancies in U.S. Senate seats," Bolton said.
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"Even the state Legislature's own research body concluded that Christie would be well within his discretion to appoint somebody through the November 2014 election.
"To say that he's then going to change basically a practice he established last year and hold a special election at the cost of $20 to $25 million ... is just mind boggling."
Bolton, whose run as President George W. Bush's temporary U.S. ambassador ended when the Senate failed to confirm him to the post, called it a "fact of political life" that governors appoint senators when vacancies occur.
But it's a mystery as to why Christie didn't turn to a qualified Republican for an appointed replacement, he said.
"This just may be a case where Christie said, 'Oh, I don't want to do anything controversial.' But it ends up ... that decision turns out to be the most controversial of all," Bolton said.
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