OTR Interviews

Bolton: Obama 'missed an opportunity' at National Prayer Breakfast, fundamentally 'doesn't believe his own objective'

The president has a chance to strongly condemn ISIS, but his remarks came off to some as weak and tepid. Meanwhile, he invoked centuries-old crimes of Christians


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 5, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Earlier today, President Obama taking to the podium and talking about ISIS at the National Prayer Breakfast. Did the president drop a ball, miss an opportunity to call the enemy what it is, "radical Islam"?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We see ISIL, a brutal vicious, death cult, that in the name of religion, carries out barbarism, terrorizing religious minorities like the Yazidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming a mantel of religious authority for such actions.


VAN SUSTEREN: And former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton joins us.

Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: The president comparing essentially ISIS and what they did a couple days ago, January 4th, depending on how you look, whether it was when we saw the video or when they executed this Jordanian pilot, to something that happened 1,000 years ago, the Crusades. Creating a lot -- a lot of people are very upset with the president tonight about that.

BOLTON: That's the president's moral equivalence at work. There were a lot of brutalities 700 to 900 years ago. Some were in the Crusade. Some were committed by the Muslims. Many were committed all over the world in the name of other religion. That's because it was 700 to 900 years ago. This happened yesterday. And the president started that remark by saying, "let's not get on our high horse, other religions have been abused, too." Well, fine. So what? Let's talk about where the abuse is taking place today. This is another example of the president showing how well-educated he is but not demonstrating leadership.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why didn't he take the chance, you know, to talk -- I mean, this would have been a perfect platform to sort of change the turn the corner on this issue.

BOLTON: Yeah, it was a missed opportunity, no doubt about it. Honestly, what if he had said the phrase "radical Islam" today and not changed his policy, which is exactly what would have happened. Rhetoric is important. But fundamentally, the problem here is the president doesn't believe his own objective. He is certainly not doing what he needs to do to achieve it. Until he does something more than change his rhetoric, we are going to be here night after night saying we are failing in the Middle East, which we are.

VAN SUSTEREN: All this is a National Prayer Breakfast sponsored by Congress. One the visitors, foreign minister of Sudan, a place where there's been incredible genocide. Why was he invited? Why would you invite someone from Sudan to the National Prayer Breakfast?

BOLTON: I don't know. I wonder if they cleared that with the State Department first.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why, because they won't let -- Bashir can't come here, the president, but the foreign minister has come back and forth between the two countries.

BOLTON: I know. I was thinking of Prime Minister Netanyahu. It's OK for this guy to show up at the prayer breakfast. Look, the administration, I think, demonstrated today that it's thinking on how to deal with ISIS remains utterly confused and that the command-and-control arrangements in the region remain utterly confused. I think they will continue to do so. The issue is when the president is going to get serious. It doesn't matter what he calls ISIS. He can call them brutal day after day after day, is he not changing his policies.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.