Romney-Rice Ticket Exciting, But Not Likely

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  • Sarah Palin must not have read  or watched “Game Change,” the tell-all 2008 presidential campaign book and made-for-TV movie that dished dirt on John McCain’s disastrous decision to make her his vice presidential running mate.

    The former Republican Alaska governor thinks it would be a “wonderful” for likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to tap former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his vice president.

    McCain’s selection of Palin was doomed from the start, largely because the Arizona Republican senator’s presidential campaign didn’t do all its homework on her.

    Trial balloons by Palin, Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and others for a Romney-Rice 2012 ticket indicates that they either haven’t done all their homework on Rice or, like McCain, they’re more interested in sizzle than steak in a GOP-acceptable running mate.

    “Choosing Condoleezza Rice would inject tremendous excitement into the campaign and remove all suspense from the outcome,” conservative pundit George Will said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “You would have such an uproarious convention in Tampa, you’d have perhaps a third party, you’d have a challenge to her on the floor, you’d have walkouts of delegations, and he’d lose 40 states.”

    Still, for some Republicans there’s just something about Condi.

    “She’s very qualified,” New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who’s also rumored to be in Romney’s VP mix, told Stephanopoulos. “She’s excellent. She’s tested. Yes.”

    Yes, Rice was a hawkish neo-conservative when it came to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other aspects of U.S. foreign policy.  And yes, she’s an impressive speaker with an equally impressive resume: a preacher’s daughter and child of segregated Alabama; an accomplished pianist and ice skater; an expert on Russia and the old Soviet Union; a former Stanford University provost; President George W. Bush’s national security adviser; and the nation’s first black female secretary of state.

    But Rice is a no-go for conservative Republicans when it comes to several domestic policy issues. For instance, she proclaimed herself “mildly pro-choice,” a description that led one anti-abortion blogger to caustically ask last week whether an aborted fetus is “mildly dead?”

    Democratic strategist James Carville said if people believe that “Condi Rice is going to be a Republican vice president, then you believe that Obama was born in Kenya.

    While most of the anti-Rice forces focused on her abortion stance and her being associated with a president whose name is still radioactive among Democratic and Republican voters, they overlooked another Condi stance that could have the GOP base screaming “Massachusetts Moderate Mitt!” if he picks her.

    Rice is an unabashed supporter of affirmative action.

    Rice supported affirmative action even when the Bush administration didn’t. In 2003, the Bush White House filed a legal brief supporting a challenge in the Supreme Court to the University of Michigan’s admissions policy, which used race as a consideration.

    Press media reports at the time said that White House officials ran their position on the Michigan case by Rice, who aides said approved it. That was false. Rice, then Bush’s national security adviser, grew so annoyed by the reports that she took the nearly-unheard of step of issuing a carefully-worded statement in which she broke with her boss, the president of the United States.

    "I agree with the president's position, which emphasizes the need for diversity and recognizes the continued legacy of racial prejudice and the need to fight it," she said in the statement.

    But she added: "I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body."

    Rice wasn’t the only high-ranking Bush administration official to disagree with the president. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell seconded Rice’s affirmative action assessment.

    And Rice hasn’t been a shrinking violet since she left the White House and State Department in talking about the continued need for affirmative action, especially in education.

    In her 2010 book, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: a Memoir of Family,” Rice writes about how affirmative action helped her rise in academia. During a 2010 speech at Washington’s National Press Club to promote her book, Rice said the need for affirmative action still exists.

    “It was always a great frustration to me as secretary of state that I could go all day at the State Department and never see another person who looked like me in a meeting,” she said. “For the most ethnically diverse – biggest multi-ethnic democracy in the world, that was a real problem.”

    She said she doesn’t look at affirmative action as a quota system in which you “need 10 percent of that and 5 percent of that and 25 percent of that,” as many Republicans believe it is, but “as a clarion call to make sure that you just aren’t replicating the same group of people out of the same channels over and over again.”

    “It makes the world a pretty dull place when you do that,” she told the press club.

    But some folks like dull just fine. VDARE, designated as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, blasted talk of a possible Rice VP pick.

    “…The choice of Rice, an Affirmative Action cipher with no visible talent except for obeying Neocons, is a hugely negative message to white voters,” a post on the group’s web site read. “It says that the GOP is indeed terrified of Obama’s Race Card and that a Romney presidency is likely to degenerate into minority appeasement.”
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