It’s not Condi.
Late Thursday night the Drudge Report put up a center-of-the-page breaking story saying that former Secretary of State Condleeza Rice is now the frontrunner to be Romney’s pick for VP. The report gained outsized attention due to the fact that Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge is known to have a close working relationship with Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. Drudge has made his support for Romney clear on many occasions.
Be all that as it may, I’m saying it will never happen.
Condi Rice is a brilliant woman with a stellar resumé. She was National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State during the administration of George W. Bush. She knows the political players – current, past and in many cases, future — in every country in the world that matters to the United States.
She is articulate, well-read, well-rounded and credible on a wide range of subjects, the most obvious being U.S. foreign policy.
According to those that were there, she galvanized the crowd when she spoke at a Romney event in Park City, UT several weeks ago.
That she is a woman and that she is black has all of the obvious political appeal.
Condi Rice is, for many conservatives, the ever-elusive bright, shiny object.
But she won’t be Romney’s pick for VP.
The received wisdom regarding VP running mates is that they can help you a little or hurt you a lot. Condoleeza Rice could hurt Romney a lot.
She has favored abortion rights in the past. This is at odds with the pro-life position that Romney has worked diligently to stake out in the wake of a more “nuanced” position that he held while governor of Massachusetts. Romney would be forced to waste time during the campaign defending attacks from both left and right on abortion during a period when any time spent not talking about jobs, the economy and the debt constitutes a get-out-of-jail-free card for Team Obama.
Rice has never held elected office and has never campaigned. As undeniably smart as she is, her lack of campaign experience constitutes a gaffe waiting to happen – a gaffe that will be pounced upon by a media that will continue to be reliably tilted in Obama’s favor.
Arguing most forcefully, however, against a Condoleeza Rice pick for VP is her tenure with the Bush administration. Ms. Rice was one of only three cabinet members, and was by far the most prominent, to serve the entire eight years of the George W. Bush presidency. (Elaine Chao served all eight years as Secretary of Labor and John Walters served all eight years as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy).
If Romney were to pick Condi Rice to be his running mate, he would spend the remaining days until the election defending the charge that a vote for Romney is a vote to return to (altogether now) “the failed policies of the Bush administration.” Any connection to the still-unpopular Bush administration could be sufficient to sway the votes of independents – those in the mushy middle that could go either way. In order to win the election, Romney will need to move, depending upon in which state they are cast, as many as six million votes from the Obama column to his own. To do that, he can ill afford to lose any independent voters. They will make the critical differences in Ohio, Virginia and Florida – the “must win” states for the Romney campaign.
All of this and the fact that Secretary Rice has said forcefully, repeatedly and without coyness, that she doesn’t want the job.
Clear signals are coming from the Romney camp that a VP selection will be announced relatively soon.
It’s not gonna be Condi.