Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton defended the use of footage from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley in a Republican House candidate's ad on Tuesday.

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Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wendy Rogers's (R) ad, which attempts to paint Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) as weak on terror, has drawn criticism and calls for it to be taken off air from Democrats. It's unclear whether she's heeded those calls, but on Tuesday afternoon the ad had been made private on YouTube. Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

But Bolton said those calls to take down the ad were indicative of "fear of the issue."

"When you hear people say, 'Oh you shouldn't run ads on that issue,' to me it demonstrates fear of the issue," he told The Hill in an interview at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of his political action committee. "And the fact is, the beheadings are a barbaric expression of the real problem of radical Islam, and if we don't talk about it as adults we're never going to understand the problem fully."

Bolton has floated a potential 2016 presidential run and launched a PAC and super-PAC last year as part of a broader effort to raise his profile and refocus the national debate around national security issues. He has endorsed Rogers, and while he said he hadn't seen the ad so couldn't comment specifically on the substance, he defended the content.

"The remedy for political speech you don't like is more political speech, it's not self-censorship. If Americans can't talk about Americans being beheaded then we've lost a fundamental vitality to our political life," he said.