February 23, 2008

Don't Add Rice To The Republican Presidential Recipe

For the last few years, Condoleezza Rice's name has come up in conjunction with the Vice Presidency in a number of strange ways. First, in 2004, rumors had George Bush dumping Dick Cheney to invite Rice onto his re-election ticket. When that didn't happen, the rumors persisted as late as last year that Cheney would retire for health reasons and allow Rice to be selected as the replacement VP -- and put her in position to run for President in 2008.

That didn't happen, either, but it hasn't stopped the Rice advocates from pressing to make her VP. At CPAC, one could see "Condi" buttons and stickers pushing for her selection to the ticket. Yesterday, however, she threw cold water -- again -- on the effort (via Memeorandum):

The secretary of State told reporters Friday she will not be a vice presidential candidate in the upcoming election.

"I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States," she said at a news conference to discuss her recent trip to Africa. "I didn't even run for high school president. It's sort of not in my genes."

Instead, Rice told reporters: "You can all come and visit me in California."

Some conservatives looked to Rice to balance out a McCain-led ticket, but that has a lot less popularity than it did in 2004. As Secretary of State, Rice has dutifully executed the Bush administration's foreign policy, but has not fulfilled the promise that conservatives held with her appointment. She has not conducted the housecleaning of the bureaucracy that some wanted, and her work at the Annapolis conference rubbed many the wrong way, with her equating the Palestinians to the experiences of African-Americans.

Still, she remains a popular figure among Republicans, and could provide some star quality in a national election. Rice might better serve herself by running for Governor in California in 2010, or possibly even the Senate against either Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer. She's unlikely to do so, though, given her oft-expressed disinterest in electoral politics. The only position for she seems ready to campaign is NFL Commissioner, although perhaps not even that, given how much time Roger Goodell has had to spend with Arlen Specter of late.

After sticking with the Bush administration for its entire eight years, Rice probably wants nothing more than at least a short period of obscurity, and it's hard to blame her for that. However, if that invitation to visit her in California and have a long conversation remains open, I'd love to take her up on it.

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