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John Bolton.JPGFormer U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said this afternoon that he's "considering" running for president as he spoke to reporters before addressing the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento.

The former George W. Bush appointee, however, declined to give more details about when he might announce his candidacy.

His 19-minute-long news conference suggested any potential run would focus on foreign policy and criticisms of President Barack Obama's handling of issues ranging from Libya to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Just because the last election was almost entirely about the economy doesn't mean the next one will be," Bolton said.

On that note, Bolton's statements were a reminder of the tough-talking rhetoric of the Bush administration. At one point, Bolton said he would have unilaterally declared a no-fly zone over Libya within the first few days of the uprising there.

"Would you have declared a unilateral no-fly zone?" asked Phil Trounstine, co-editor of the blog Calbuzz.

"Sure," Bolton shot back before the question was even finished.

"So you're not impressed at all by the notion of getting the Security Council involved and getting China and Russia to abstain?" Trounstine continued.

"I think that was very weak," Bolton answered.

Bolton also called Obama's policies "unforgivable" and "pathetic."

When asked about his presidential future, Bolton answered, "Yes, I am considering it, and that's a magic phrase that means I'm considering it. I'm not a duck placid on the surface and paddling furiously underneath. I'm thinking about it."

Another potential Republican presidential candidate, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is scheduled to address the convention Saturday night.

Bolton devoted most of his remarks today to foreign policy. At one point, he called Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "not much of a reformed terrorist."

"Had we acted early on decisively, I think it could have tipped the balance in Libya at a very early stage as his government was collapsing," Bolton said.

Bolton summed up his pitch early in the news conference.

"I am very much interested in the security of the country," Bolton said. "and I think the inadequacy of the debate on national security issues is going to come back and haunt us."

Photo: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton talks to reporters at the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento on March 18, 2011. (Hector Amezcua/ Sacramento Bee)


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