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August 29th, 2008
04:46 PM ET

Calling Condi Rice

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.condi.jpg]
Marcus Mabry
Author, Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power

If polls are right, thousands, perhaps millions, watched John McCain introduce Sarah Palin to the American people and thought, “What about Condi?”

There is no evidence that Condoleezza Rice was ever on Sen. McCain’s short list for vice president. As George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, she would have brought, uh, liabilities, to say the least — in particular, the administration’s troubled foreign policy record.

But it’s unlikely Sen. McCain would have won voters who strongly opposed to the war in Iraq anyway. And, more importantly, polls have shown repeatedly, for years, that the American people never blamed Rice for the mistakes made in Iraq; they blame President Bush, Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Any presidential nominee takes a risk when he picks a running mate who brings different, even opposite, qualities than his own to the ticket.

As Sen. McCain introduced Gov. Palin, 44, at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, he couldn’t help but emphasize, for instance, that he turned 72 on the same day. Just Barack Obama’s choosing Joe Biden underlined Sen. Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience, Sen. McCain picking Gov. Palin underscored his lack of youth and, some might say, vigor.

But it was also a mammoth risk. If McCain wins, he will be the oldest person ever inaugurated as president. He has chosen as his number two a governor who has been in office less than two years. Two years ago, she was the mayor of a town of 9,000 people. In January, she would be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States of America — a 72-year-old heartbeat.

Rice, objectively speaking, would be qualified to be president tomorrow.

Sen. McCain said he chose Gov. Palin because she has executive experience. Secretary Rice ran Stanford University as provost (the chief financial and academic officer of the university) for six years. She balanced a budget that was tens of millions of dollars in deficit when she took office.
One could argue that corralling the professors and students at Stanford — the professors have lifetime tenure and can’t be fired; the students are only there for four years and think the place is made for them — is one of the toughest executive jobs in the country.

McCain said Palin is a maverick; she exposed Republican corruption in Alaska. Rice is an African American Republican! She lived through the darkest days of segregation and Jim Crow and left the Democratic as a young specialist on the Soviet Union to became a Republican because she agreed with Ronald Reagan. Now, that’s maverick.

While Palin was competing in beauty pageants, Rice was impressing Brent Scowcroft, George H.W. Bush’s future national security advisor, with her grasp of the military contest with the Soviet Union.

Rice has looked presidential since she became Secretary of State in 2001 and traveled around the world. Just google photos of her or go to the State department website.
Whatever one thinks of the president she works for, she is tested. There is nothing like an American presidential rate; Gov. Palin has never seen the kind of intensity she is about the live through. The greatest risk of choosing a running mate who has never even been on the national stage is that you could end up with Dan Quayle, who was a gaffe machine.

The selection of Gov. Pailin says a lot of things. First, with the Democrats making history last night, it says that the Republicans felt the need to make their own bid to make history too.
It says the McCain campaign has decided that this is a “change” election, where experience will not necessarily carry the day.

But mostly, the selection of Gov. Palin says that for all the discussion in the media and the pundocracy about Sen. Obama’s need to rally Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton, Sen. McCain needed to shore up his own conservative base just as desperately.
Gov. Palin is pro-life and had a child, reportedly, had a child she knew would be born with Downs syndrome, even though, assumedly, she learned that information early enough to terminate the pregnancy.

Conservative political leader Ralph Reed told The New York Times social conservatives were “ecstatic” about the pick.

Rice is just as fervently religious as Palin — her father was a preacher and she lived, literally, in a church (their apartment was behind the pulpit) until she was two. Religious right leaders have said they would support her.

But Rice is also a moderate on social issues. Her best friend is a gay man. She supports gay rights, though not same-sex marriage. She supports affirmative action.
It is worth noting she is also pro-gun rights, an “absolutist” as she put it on the Second Amendment.

While Obama ended his speech last night reaching out to moderates and independents, saying that even though Americans might disagree on abortion, same-sex marriage or gun control, certainly there was reasonable middle ground we could find.

A Rice pick would have been the same kind of reaching out on Sen. McCain’s part.
Though Rice has been hyper-loyal to George Bush, one of the last aides to him that has been, actually, she Rice is a Arnold Schwarzenegger-style Republican.

She is also an Alabaman (from the South, the Republican heartland) who came of age in Colorado (the mountain West, a swing region this year) and has lived most of her adult life in California (a Democratic stronghold).

Some will say Rice said she didn’t want to be vice president. But Rice had also said she didn’t want to be national security adviser or secretary of state either.


Filed under: Condoleezza Rice • John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Kirk

    I'll vote for McCain-Palin, but I sure would have loved to have seen Condi Rice on the ticket. Perhaps she wouldn't have accepted, but she is quite simply Grade-A Class through and through. The woman carries herself with a dignity and intelligence rare in Washington.

    August 29, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  2. Russell

    McCain is a hypocrite with poor judgement. Experience was his big thing. When Obama responded that judgement is the most important, McCain said he had that, too. So then he picks someone that is highly inexperienced for VP, showing himself to be a hypocrite. To pick her for purely political reasons, as he's done, shows he doesn't have the judgement he claimed. He put politics and winning the election above the good of the country. People say "oh, she's a governor." As far as I can tell, Alaska is 46th in population. Two years as gov. of Alaska does not qualify you to be president. What a stupid move by McCain!

    August 29, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  3. Rick

    I am a big fan of Condi's. She is just too close to Bush to be a suitable political choice. Maybe next race.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  4. Susan

    This displays the dirty tricks the Republicans are capable of doing. It appears that he is underestimating that people can see through this fascade. He is attempting to woo women that supported Hillary Clinton away from the Democrats by asking her to be his running mate. Shame Shame. I myself am not disappointed. This just means that as Democrats we have to keep working very hard to get the Democrats in office. It doesn't matter how old McCain . I can see that the conservatives withi his office are purely upset. Come on over to hour house – we have all kinds of people.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  5. steph

    I don't think Rice was seriously considered for the position or interested.
    McCain succeeded in getting the spotlight off of Obama with his VP announcement, but Palin will never win over the Clinton supporters. McCain's desperation is so obvious to everyone!!! OBAMA 08

    August 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  6. Ryan

    Maybe he thought that she was too controversial due to WMD, but frankly McCain has made the most bizarre comments about the war, the economy, and his own personal affairs, his VP choice makes me question his decision-making capacity. Does he need an MRI of his brain?

    August 29, 2008 at 9:48 pm |
  7. Peter

    Talking about Palin this reminds me of the "Lumberjack Song"

    I'm a lumberjack and that's ok,
    I like to wear women's dresses...

    Just like the lumberjack's girl realizing that there's something wrong with her man I think Republicans are beginning to wonder about McCain.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  8. Scot Stevens

    While the political implications in choosing a vice president need to be seriously factored into the decision, they should not override the key responsibility of ensuring that in the event the president is unable to serve, the vice president is well qualified to take over the duties, challenges, and leadership of the most important job in the world.

    It is a presidential candidate's most important decision prior to assuming the presidency and it speaks, or should speak volumes to the American people with regard to the candidate's judgment and commitment to the integrity of the office and the sense of responsibility to America and its people, all its people.

    While Barak Obama's choice of Joe Biden certainly entailed political calculations, there is no credible argument that it did not pass that first, most crucial test of presidential readiness in the event the vice president is called upon to serve as president If the politics also work, it only makes the decision that much more nuanced.

    John McCain's choice, on the other hand, seems to have failed that first test and raises serious questions with regard to judgment and priorities. Unless there are unknown qualifications that have yet to emerge, the clear No. 1 priority underlying this choice was getting elected rather ensuring the post was filled with THE most qualified person to occupy the position of being a heartbeat away from the presidency.

    Given Mr. McCain's age and health history, this is a particularly troublesome and extremely telling decision.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  9. Shaun

    Picking Palin was a complete ill-judgment. Wrong time. Wrong person. McCain comes across desperate. He will regret this decision enormously. McCain's days are numbered.

    Palin:
    1) Smart and good looking, but awful at giving speeches.
    2) Palin was a Mayor of a four digit-population town. Come On!!!
    3) Only 2 years in the Governor seat, over looking low sophiticated departments and budgets.
    4) Mother of five-and a young one with down symdrone...family comes first...if there's a national crisis...America may be in trouble.
    5) No foreign experiences
    6) She may be the President of the USA if McCain dies...(scary notion)

    August 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  10. joe m

    condi rice would have been an interesting choice, but from her own comments, she seems ready to return to private and academic life.

    with respect to the critque that gov. palin does not have enough experience, if one accepts senator obama's argument that it is judgement that matters, then gov. palin is equally qualified as one can argue that she has demonstrated an equal level of judegment.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  11. Carolyn Cunningham

    Palin is under indictment! DUH Who is looking out for us to let this person be VP.
    Now for the best she asked " what does the VP do all day"!

    Smart move McCain unless you have your eye on her taking Cindy's place after all she is young DUMB and looks up to him.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  12. marc

    Mccain now has my vote!! and my wife, and inlaws, we were waiting for this. Barack will kick himself forever for not choosing hillary.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  13. Jeremiah Bilas

    Condi Rice or Palin; they both represent more of the same. Palin an oil women, enemy of the environment and an enemy of womens rights. Rice would be more of the same failed foreign policy of pre-emptive war and refusal of diplomacy. Mccain is a bush sidekick, not a maverick. OBAMA/BIDEN '08

    August 29, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  14. Pat

    WOW is she ever attractive! It's about time we considered how our leaders LOOK, and not just how they SOUND. Bravo!

    August 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  15. TA

    What is that we gained from all the executive experience of our current president? All this hoopla about executive experience is nonsense. Some people are born leaders like Obama and then there are others like Mr. Bush who can try as much they want but will never be great leaders.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  16. liz

    I honestly think that McCain is out of his mind. This is a mind boggling choice.

    Thank you McCain for handing over the election to the Obama party! I could not be more excited.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  17. Nicolas

    Why not Condi? Because she is a closeted lesbian. She doesn't want to run for any electable office because of scrutiny into personal affairs. Unmarried and living with another woman (filmmaker Randy Bean) and having a line of credit together? There is more to Condi than the neo-cons let on.

    Also, she ignored a report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." Yea... I don't think anyone would want her as president.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  18. RA Crouch, Michigan

    Palin is a great selection—she brings pretty to the GOP ticket.

    Seven years of city level politics and almost four years of state level politics will ensure she has the experience necessary to function on the national and international level and even assume the duties of president should something occur to our geriatric presidential hopeful.

    Her courage is demonstrated by accepting the VP running mate position despite the videotaped interview where she admits she does not know what the VP does.

    Her BS degree in Journalism and background in sports journalism will make her instrumental in handling the media. A job that Political Science JD Joe Biden would surely mishandle.

    Her prolife position is demonstrated through her five children and her choice to keep a Down Syndrome child allowing the child to enjoy everything life has to offer.

    Supporting the teaching of creationism in school demonstrates her devotion to religion where women are subordinate to men making her perfect for the VP position.

    Good job McCain! Your VP selection demonstrates wisdom, insight, and unparalleled judgment that Obama never will have.

    I trust that the legislative probe against her for the firing of a commissioner regarding the divorce of her sister will be dropped.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  19. Anthony Smith

    You are joking...right? We need another Bush puppet like Big Oil needs more tax breaks. Rice has done nothing, is nothing, and will be remembered for nothing. Atleast Palin is great looking! Not experienced, but I could change that...I'll be here all week!

    Wildwood Crest, NJ

    August 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  20. Mary Helen Rice

    I was on the fence but no contest now...my vote goes to
    Barack. McCain showed such poor judgment in his unqualified VP pick, insulted women as well as the qualified members of his own party. His senility is showing....

    August 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  21. Guy

    I have no idea what John McCain was thinking with this choice. However, I had no idea what he's thinking most of the time anyway (the scary part if you're a Republican is he didn't make this choice alone, in fact I think George Bush may have had a hand in it). What will be will play out in the weeks to come. All in all I am inspired by a hope and faith that I haven't felt since the late 60,s. Plenty of our so called experienced leaders have lied, cheated, sold arms to thugs, etc. Is a great leader not someone who inspires people to action? Obama's message is simple, we've got to change Washington in order to change America and in order to do that we have to get involved and make some changes in ourselves. That's the kind of leadership we need.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  22. Emile

    Aesthetics aside, it would have forced the American voting public to accept the concept of voting for a Black president now, or run the risk that of dottering old fool becoming incapacitated halfway through his administration and have one slip into the role by attrition. Besides, the candidates no more choose their running mates than freshman college students choose their professors; there's a party agenda that has to be followed with statisticians who guage the projected success of a given campaign...McCain's got a long-shot in Palin; he'd have had an 'also ran' with Rice(and the equine analogy isn't a mistake!).

    August 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  23. Michelle

    I am absolutely flabbergasted that Senator McCain picked someone with such limited experience to be a heart beat away from the oval office. As a woman, I would be thrilled to see a woman run the nation – but only if she is totally qualified to do so. My only reservation about voting for Senator Obama is his limited experience. I can't believe that McCain could pick someone who others will have the same problem with. I think he needs to realize that women vote about the issues – the gender of the candidate is a secondary consideration.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  24. Ellen

    Wow. As a Hillary supporter, I was very disappointed that Obama did not pick her as his VP and I was considering voting for McCain even though I think he has become way too comfortable with W and the rest of the good ol' boys. But not now. What an insult – first, to pick a woman in such a pitifully blatant attempt to pander to us and THEN to pick THIS woman? As though this woman somehow favorably compares to Hillary's experience, intelligence, and tenacity? I do not want to demean Sarah Palin, but, there are so many more qualified women that might have secured my vote. And not just Condi - what about Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Marsha Blackburn!?!?! At this point, I'd even take Tom Ridge. But this pick leaves me cold. I'll be voting for Obama/Biden on November 4. ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  25. Ron , Berkeley , Ca.

    Because , Condi Rice is`nt a beauty queen like Cindy McBush , and Sarah Palin .... Old Johnny Boy likes them young and cute...
    And after all , It`s his Birthday !!!

    August 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  26. Mel

    Many conservatives like myself would have liked to see Condi Rice as a VP pick due to her experience and intelligence. The biggest problem we have with her are her moderate views on abortion. I have always viewed abortion as wrong, but at one time in my life I thought it should be a woman's right to choose. Having three healthy children and realizing the absolute miricle of life I thought what right do any of us have to take the life of small innocent human beings. In 1937, my grandmother and grandfather traveled to Virginia for the abortion of my mother. Grandmother was on the physicians table holding my grandfathers hand – they couldn't stop crying. My grandparents who weren't particularly religious at the time started praying and an overwhelming peace came over them and they chose to keep my mother. I cannot thank them enough for giving her the right to live. I am a social worker – I am well aware of the despair in this world but I am equally aware of the goodness and kindness of most human beings. Abortion is a shameful act that should not be allowed for routine contraception – there are plenty of contraceptives already. It is totally irresponsible. Abortion should only be a choice for rape or incest victims.

    So with all this said we are delighted with John McCains choice.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  27. yoye

    If he had chosen Condy, it would have been too smart and too safe. That's why it did not happen. Unless you are Leslie Sanchez, you have got to be concerned with this choice. That is my definition of IMMATURITY.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  28. Blyden

    Simple: because Condi Rice projects as a nasty, hateful, and less than fully competent foreign policy expert. McCain doesn't need a foreign policy expert, and no one needs a hateful, ugly VP.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:21 pm |
  29. Gianna Ancich

    At least Condi Rice is not a WOLF KILLER like Sara Palin. Sara Palin is a wildlife killer, trophy hunter and is strongly aligned with the International Safari Club. She will sell the Alaskan wildnerness to big oil companies. There are still lots of Republicans that love and enjoy the sound of wolves, unlike Sara who will gut them herself, if given the opportunity.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
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