Condi Rice is being pushed by some neocons to be selected as the next Republican vice presidential nominee. When I first heard about this scenario, my instinct was to dismiss it as pure gossip, but after thinking about it some more, I have become more intrigued by the notion. In many ways, it’s the same reason why Florida Sen. Marco Rubio intrigues me on the ticket. Youthfulness, bona fide conservative credentials and diversity. Condi Rice, the first female African-American Secretary of State, brings diversity to the ticket and of course crackerjack foreign policy experience.
As I mentioned before, my money is on Mitt Romney becoming the next Republican nominee. His steadiness in the polls (yes, I know this has been a rollercoaster of a ride), his firm grasp of the issues that are demonstrated in the debates, and his ability to show considerable fundraising might compel me to believe that the primary race is still Romney’s to lose. His challenge will be whether or not he can convince conservative primary voters that he is not going to waffle on social issues if he wins the White House. Senator Rubio, as I have stated before, could be the reminder that conservatives may want in the White House; but Condi Rice could also serve in that role.
First, the drawbacks: Rice having never served in elected office, many Americans may think she is too inexperienced and naïve in the ways of the rough-and-tumble politics to actually assist Romney on the ticket. Her coming from California is also a perceived negative, since she will bring no geographical balance to a ticket that may come from the East Coast. The elephant in the room, of course, is that Rice comes from the Bush administration — all eight years of it — and she would most likely have to defend all of the controversial foreign policy decisions of the previous administration, all of which she either defended as President Bush’s national security advisor or implemented as Secretary of State. Policy positions such as the Iraq war, waterboarding and Guantonmo Bay would all have to be defended. Rice would also have to defend her lack of domestic policy experience, all the while attacking Vice President Biden—her chief political opponent — and President Obama — a main job for the vice presidential nominee. This isn’t to say that Rice could not do it, it’s just that she has not been tested in this field and she will most likely stumble a bit until she gets her sea legs.
The upside: Rice has always been and will continue to be an interesting public policy figure. She’s smart, engaging and unflappable. A debate between Rice and Biden would be must-watch television as each would be ready to better the other on hot-button issues such as North Korea, Pakistan, China and Cuba. Rice would also give African Americans a real clear choice as to which they want to represent them in the executive branch. Yes, of course, I know the comparison is a little lopsided, as President Obama is already at the top of the ticket and Rice would be the number 2 on the opposite ticket, but I still think it’s worth comparing — for the first time in history two African Americans could be on each party’s national ticket as a constitutional officer. That’s nothing to sneeze about and African Americans would, in my opinion, look at President Obama and Condi Rice and judge — rightly so — who would be their better advocate in the White House.
If Rice were selected to the ticket, it would bring scrutiny and a wonderful sense of diversity to a national ticket on the other side. Let the contest begin.
Follow Robert Traynahm on twitter@roberttraynham.