By KEVIN DERBYSeptember 11, 2019 – 6:00am
John Bolton, talking to President Trump in the Oval Office
Florida’s two U.S. senators were caught off guard by National Security Advisor John Bolton leaving the Trump administration on Wednesday.
While President Donald Trump insisted Bolton had been fired, the former UN ambassador disputed that and claimed to have resigned. Regardless what happened, the two Republicans representing Florida in the Senate worked closely with Bolton.
Insisting “he did not see it” coming, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., told the Tampa Bay Times that he had been scheduled to meet with Bolton on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Venezuela.
“I have a good relationship with Bolton,” Scott told the Tampa Bay Times, adding that he hoped whoever Trump replaced him with continued to oppose the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also talked to the Tampa Bay Times, telling them Bolton “did a good job” and saying “we worked very well with him.”
Rubio praised Bolton when Trump nominated him for the job back in March 2018.
“I know John Bolton well and believe he is an excellent choice who will do a great job as National Security Advisor,” Rubio said at the time.
Over in the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., praised Bolton on Tuesday.
“John Bolton has been a dedicated servant leader,” said Waltz who worked in the Pentagon and is the first Green Beret to serve in Congress. “Each time duty has called, he’s answered and I’m grateful for his service. I hope President Trump selects a National Security Advisor who understands that when America doesn’t lead, bad things happen – but when we lead with strength, our country and the world is a safer place.”
Bolton has been active in Florida politics during recent election cycles, including backing Rubio for a second term in 2016.
“Marco Rubio understands foreign policy and he is a critical voice to have in the U.S. Senate during these precarious times at home and abroad,” said Bolton when he endorsed Rubio three years ago. “Marco is a champion for strengthening our military and advancing our international interests, which is why I endorse him and the John Bolton PAC has donated the maximum amount of $10,000 to his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Bolton also backed then U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., when he was running for a third term in Congress in 2016. DeSantis was elected governor last year.
The subject of presidential buzz back in 2012 and this election cycle before deciding not to run both times, Bolton has active backing other Republicans in the Sunshine State. Calling U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and now in charge of the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, a leader on foreign policy, Bolton supporter her before she retired from Congress last year. Bolton has also thrown his support to other Florida Republicans including U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former U.S. Reps. Steve Southerland and Carlos Curbelo.
Bolton, whom former President George W. Bush appointed as ambassador to the United Nations for 16 months — despite never winning confirmation in the U.S. Senate — had raised the possibility that he would be open to a presidential campaign to highlight foreign-policy issues in 2012 and 2016 but he stayed out both times. On most issues, Bolton, who identifies himself as influenced by the likes of former President Ronald Reagan and former GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater is a reliable conservative but he does break left on some issues, including backing same-sex marriage.
While well-respected by Beltway Republicans, Bolton has never held elective office, though he did serve in the Justice and State departments under Reagan and George H.W. Bush, eventually rising to serve as assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs. He served as under-secretary for Arms Control and International Security in George W. Bush’s first term, before being named to the U.N. post.