I was thinking about this posting when I went to get my hair cut (at Shear Innovations in Mechanicsville – give them a try) and I mentioned the idea of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for Vice President and the lady cutting hair next to me said that was a great idea! She was visibly enthusiastic about her being the VP! The night before, the staunch social conservatives I was honored to sit with for dinner also greeted the Rice idea with excitement. Someone is keeping it before the press – and it is not Rice. I have to assume either the Romney campaign is floating the idea to see what happens or someone else with clout is. It could be a safe diversion for the real choice to be vetted without publicity. If it is real buzz, it looks promising for the Rice chances…
The new Rice buzz started with the interview with Ann Romney who hinted her husband was considering a woman for Vice President. This led to this article in the Weekly Standard that cites an interesting Rasmussen poll citing Rice with the highest marks among likely voters. I do not generally agree with Bill Kristol (that puts it mildly) but I do feel that he raises a good point on the potential of a Rice VP selection:
What’s more, while the other VP possibilities have decent but middling favorable/unfavorable ratings (and are mostly unknown), Rice’s favorable/unfavorable, according to a Rasmussen poll a couple of months ago, is a pretty staggering 66-24. Rice has said she’s not interested—but Dick Cheney said he wasn’t interested at this point in 2000.
That is right – what would independents say? Is Rice too closely tied to Bush and thus would be a target? This poll of declared Republicans and GOP-leaning independents shows support for Rice. She might have some explaining to do on Bush foreign policy but she seems to be able to hold her own in speech-making:
Rice wowed the crowd—and seemed to impress Mitt Romney, who was standing beside her—when she spoke in a featured role at a Romney campaign event two weeks ago in Park City, Utah. Rice is qualified, would be a poised (if novice) candidate, and would complement Romney in terms of area of expertise, gender (obviously!), and life experience. Rice offers an unusual combination of being at once a reassuring pick (she served at the highest levels of the federal government for eight years) and an exciting one.
If major Romney donors feel like these guests at the Park City event, there will be Rice buzz continuing:
Many of those same attendees said the star speaker of the weekend was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who received and 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.”
Husband-and-wife donors from Los Angeles who did not want to be identified said Rice’s message was one of “America needing to take charge.”
“We can’t stand by and let things happen,” the wife said. “If we do, someone else will take that leadership role.”
They both described her address as an “impassioned plea” for the country to “stand up and take charge.”
Donor Kent Lucken, an international banker in Boston who moved back to his home state of Iowa for six weeks before the caucuses to help Romney, said “she rocked it.”
Donors have power; it is significant that Rice says she does not want the VP nod but she has not said absolutely no. I love the line about not even a candidate for student council president and that is one weakness Rice may have: Not enough practical political experience.
But if the debate between VP Biden and Rice were a prize fight, it would have to be called after 15 minutes out of mercy for Biden! She would bring several demographic strengths to the GOP ticket: African-American, evangelical Christian, women (single too – that might be important to the many young adult singles who vote), foreign policy experience and something of an charismatic intellectual (think of John Paul II). Rice is also clearly qualified to be President. She, like John Bolton, would be the perfect “bad cop” to send out on the administration’s behalf to our foes and those wavering. Romney would have an experienced foreign policy team with Rice as VP and Bolton as Secretary of State.
Check out the comments in this article. I believe Rice would seriously and prayerfully consider Romney’s call.
Social conservatives might quibble at Rice a bit – look at this article in Politics Daily: Rice is a mildly pro-choice libertarian!
Rice said she is “generally pretty libertarian” on moral issues, and said her views on government regulation of abortion are still evolving.
“I don’t like the government involved in these really hard moral decisions,” she said. “While I don’t think the country is ready for legislation to overturn Roe v. Wade, certainly I cannot imagine why one would be in favor of partial-birth abortion. I also can’t imagine why one would take these decisions out of the hands of the family. We all understand that this is not something to be taken lightly.”
On same-sex marriage she said that while she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, “I don’t ever want anybody to be denied rights within our country.” She suggested that civil unions could be a “way for people to express their desire to live together,” and said that “the country, if we can keep the volume down, will come to good answers.”
Rice wants to make sure faith is not used to exclude people:
“It’s extremely important not to assault people,” Rice told Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical magazine, in a Dec. 20 interview. “Sometimes I think evangelicals come at people so hard and so fast and don’t take time to listen to where somebody is,” she added. “We can just try to have a lighter touch sometimes.”
We do have to be careful not to confuse sin and law. I think it would if I were advising Romney (Lord help him!), I would say, get her to speak BEFORE she is selected VP to a very conservative group with her nuanced message on social issues sandwiched as the meat in the middle of two rich foreign policy pieces of bread garnished by Rice’s great personal story of faith and overcoming hardship. Remember a pro-choice Republican is usually better than a pro-choice Democrat!
I am also concerned about the Ron Paul sector of the party. Some would be opposed because of her ties to the Bush administration. But maybe this aspect of Rice’s positions might sway some left-libertarians. And independents, too.
My position on VP is I like Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell first, LA Governor Bobby Jindal second but I would be pleasantly excited at the Rice nod. Rice would be a buzz-nominee without most of the buzz-risk. Now it might take two calls for Romney to persuade her! Maybe Ann Romney should call first…