Condoleezza Rice for vice president? Nope.
It’s happening again. Chatter is rising in political (and non-political) circles about the prospect of Bush Administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice being tapped as the Republican vice presidential nominee this fall.
Much of the Condi buzz is attributable to her reported star turn over the weekend at a Park City, Utah retreat for donors and supporters of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
“Many of those same attendees said the star speaker of the weekend was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who received a standing ovation. Ambassador Charles Cobb, who served as ambassador to Iceland from 1989 to 1992, said Rice was ‘spectacular’ and described her as a ‘very bright, sophisticated, articulate lady.’”
And then there was Rice’s appearance Tuesday morning on CBS in which she offered a pointed critique of the approach the Obama Administration has taken to foreign policy.
“When things are moving in many directions as they are..the United States can’t lead from behind, the United States has to have a view, it has to gather people around that view, and frankly I think we need to do more of that,” said Rice. “The last several years I think we’ve been lacking on that front.”
Combine the coverage of the last few days together and, voila!, you have an emerging storyline that Condi could well be the best vice presidential pick for Romney.
Except that it isn’t going to happen. It just isn’t.
Start with the fact that prior performance tends to be an accurate predictor of future results. Rice have never — repeat, never — run for any sort of elected office in her life and never shown any interest in doing so.
Rice said as much this morning on CBS. “I didn’t run for student council president. I don’t see myself in any way in elected office. I love policy. I’m not particularly fond of politics.”
For those who note that Rice has served in government, remember that serving in an appointed position is entirely different than putting yourself up for an elected office where you have to go out and convince lots and lots of people to vote for you.
Aside from the fact that Rice’s life seems to prove that her lack of interest in the job is genuine, there are other purely political reasons why she might not be the perfect choice that many believe her to be.
For one, there’s genuine doubt about whether she voted for Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2008 election against Barack Obama. Following Obama’s victory, Rice called the president-elect “inspirational” and said that “as an African-American, I am especially proud” of the country.
Rice’s position on abortion is also fuzzy enough to be a potential problem for her at the Republican National Convention if she was the pick. “I have not wanted to see the law changed because it is an area I worry about the government being involved in,” she told Katie Couric during an interview for “60 Minutes” in 2006. Rice added that she supports parental notification and opposes late-term abortion. (Remember that aides to McCain vetoed the selection of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman as vice president in 2008 due to concerns that his support for abortion rights would torpedo his chances of surviving a convention fight.)
Then there is the matter of her connections to President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Romney has gone out of his way avoid talking too much about the Bush years, knowing that the ideological center of the electorate still does not look kindly on those eight years. To put Rice on the ticket would be to re-litigate the debate over weapons of mass destruction and the underlying motives of our reasons for going into Iraq in the first place. And Romney simply doesn’t want to voluntarily walk into that fight.
Given all of the above, there is no way that Rice would accept the vice presidential nomination and, almost certainly, no way that Romney would even offer it to her.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the “Condi for Veep” talk won’t continue all the way up to the day that Romney announces his pick. What it does mean is that you shouldn’t attach much credence to it.