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With the Republican presidential nomination all but officially locked up, Mitt Romney is now in the process of vetting potential candidates for vice president. There is, of course, quite a bit of strategic thinking when picking a running mate and much attention has been paid to the freshman senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Wisconsin’s budget whiz kid, Representative Paul Ryan, among others. There is no clear front-runner at this point, but a sentimental favorite among conservatives is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
There are many reasons for Condi Rice’s popularity amongst the right – her smarts, her impressive resume, her poise on the international stage. I had the privilege of spending some time with Dr. Rice this past Monday at an event for ShePAC, and I was blown away by her graciousness. This very accomplished woman, who was on the front lines of our Nation’s war on terrorism, took time to thank all those in attendance who had in some way served our country, be it as a service member, a candidate, or a Member of Congress. And it was heartfelt. It’s rare in politics to find a person who is both competent and gracious. Condoleezza Rice is such a person.
Would Rice make a good vice president? Absolutely, although I’d argue she’s over-qualified for the position. Is she interested in being vice president? Not so much. Condi told a roundtable of female candidates and Members of Congress at the ShePAC event that, unlike them, she’s not interested in running for office. It was apparent to all that she’s happy doing all she can to support conservatives running for office, but being a candidate herself is not the right fit for her.
When asked later by CBS News if she’d accept the vice presidential nod from Romney, Rice responded with an unequivocal “no way.” Noting that she had never even run for student council, Rice contends she chooses policy over politics. So that’s that.
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Some conservatives are disappointed to hear the finality of Dr. Rice’s decision, not because they were hoping for a female vice president, but because they believed Condi Rice to be an exceptional choice for the position. Saying her gender alone would make her a superior candidate would be an insult to all that she has accomplished and does a disservice to women in general. If anyone has shown she is more than the sum total of her girly bits, it’s Condoleezza Rice.
To crowdsource conservative reaction to Rice’s decision, I took to Twitter and asked my followers to share their thoughts. Here’s what some of them had to say:
•“I have so much admiration for her that, frankly, I wouldn’t want to see her subjected to the madness.” We all well remember the feeding frenzy surrounding Sarah Palin and her run for the vice presidency in 2008. Has there ever been so much vitriol aimed at a political candidate? Of course, Condi Rice herself is no stranger to this kind of vile and wholly inappropriate invective. Like Palin, Rice is made of tough stuff, but do we really want to go through that again?
• “I am disappointed, of course, but in looking for the perfect running mate, you want someone who is as passionate for the job.” Rice has clearly indicated that the passion to be a candidate is just not there.
•“Who says she’s the last best hope? I think our bench isn’t so terrible as all that.” Good point. In addition to Rubio, Portman, Ryan, etc., we have some great conservative women who would make excellent vice presidential candidates, including Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. The bench is deep for exceptional conservative running mates.
As we speed toward Mitt Romney’s official nomination as the Republican candidate for president, we are likely to get a clearer idea of whom he favors as a running mate. Will it be a woman? It is unlikely, but not impossible. Fortunately for conservatives, Condi Rice will be actively supporting the ticket and cheering them on.
Teri Christoph is the co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, a non-profit organization for conservative women, and co-chair of She-PAC, a hybrid PAC supporting conservative women candidates. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriChristoph.