Bolton mum on secretary of state job, no comment on Romney

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John Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, remained tight-lipped during an interview with a Boston radio station on Wednesday when asked about his chances to be President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the next secretary of state.

“I just think I’ve got to protect the confidentiality of his deliberations,” Bolton told WRKO’s Jeff Kuhner when asked if he has had direct communication with Trump. “This is not something that pertains to me alone — I think that confidentiality remains important.

“The president-elect needs to know he can bounce ideas off people without seeing it in the front pages of the New York Times a few days later.”

Bolton, along with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, have been mentioned as potential successors to outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry. Last weekend Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters that Romney is under “active consideration” for the role, despite having been one of Trump’s most vociferous Republican critics.

Asked to share his thoughts on Romney, Bolton declined to weigh in.

“I just think given the deliberations that are going on now, I’m kind of old-school, I just don’t think I can say anything about,” he said. “I just think that trying to force a president-elect’s hand or even seek to influence the direction of his thinking by doing it in public, I just think is inappropriate.”

On Monday a senior member of Trump’s transition team reportedly told Fox News that Giuliani is the odds-on favorite to fill the role.

Bolton’s name has also surfaced, and one prominent Senate Republican has already vowed to fight a Bolton nomination.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has said that Bolton “might be better as a secretary of war, but he’s certainly not a diplomat or someone who acts in a diplomatic way or thinks diplomacy might be an alternative to war.”

Bolton declined to comment on Paul’s characterization of him.

“I’ll just say this — and I say it gritting my teeth — I’m going to respond to that at an appropriate time, I put my record in public service out on the table for everybody to see, the only thing I can ask is that people judge it themselves and not listen to others,” Bolton said.  

Bolton did say that he is confident that he’d be confirmed should he be nominated.  

“I believe based on conversations I’ve had over the last 10 years that I would get a fair reading,” Bolton told Kuhner. “Joe Biden told me that I’d get about 57 votes. But that was back before Harry Reid exploded the nuclear option, and you needed 60 votes to break a filibuster — now you need a simple majority to do that.

“I think it’s a very different Senate now and if I were to go before them I think I’d be confirmed straight away.”