If we had a nickel for every time the rumor that Condoleezza Rice was going to run for the VP slot in some Republican election arose in the media, we’d have enough cash to outraise Barack Obama. Yesterday, Dan Senor floated it on ABC’s This Week, only this time with a fairly recent twist — that Rice herself actively seeks the nomination:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is actively courting the vice presidential nomination, Republican strategist Dan Senor said.
“Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this,” Senor said this morning on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
According to Senor, Rice has been cozying up to the Republican elite.
This twist has Rice talking to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform weekly gathering of conservative activists as a means to increase her influence and standing for the position. That sounds interesting but a little ineffective as a strategy. Conservative activists don’t have the inside track yet in the McCain campaign, although ATR and Norquist have to like McCain’s spending policies. It can’t hurt, but it doesn’t seem like it would help a great deal, either.
Also, Rice hasn’t exactly endeared herself with conservatives at State, although that’s not really her fault. Conservatives had high expectations of a general housecleaning when she replaced Colin Powell, ridding the department of entrenched bureaucrats that they saw as restraining conservative policies in foreign affairs. Most of them have grumbled about lost opportunities and the direction of policy specific to the Palestinian issue. However, clearly Rice has implemented the policy of George Bush in this area, working on a two-state solution despite the rocket attacks from Hamas and a refusal of Mahmoud Abbas to do more to stop terrorist activities on the West Bank.
McCain probably doesn’t want to tie himself too closely to the Bush administration, but Rice might not be a bad choice for VP in one sense. She would provide continuity in foreign policy for the US and could be ready on Day One to support a McCain administration. Her years as Secretary of State give her the executive experience that both Obama and Hillary Clinton lack, although her lack of electoral experience could prove a significant handicap. However, McCain isn’t weak in foreign policy; he has a professed weakness in economics, which is why Mitt Romney looks like a better potential choice for balance.
Nothing has ever come from the Rice rumors over the past five years, starting when speculation had Bush dumping Cheney for the 2004 run. Nothing will probably come of this latest version, either. Ms. Rice will almost certainly return to academia in 2009, and follow up with a blockbuster memoir. Accepting a VP slot would demonstrate an ambition for electoral office that she has never displayed in the past.