Condoleezza Rice’s Political Future

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

California Republicans are definitely in need of big name star power to help bring attention to the party, and that was on display when former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the state Republican convention this weekend. So, why is she not running for office?

The Stanford professor says she is not interested in running, declaring in the past that her dream job is that of Commissioner of the National Football League. But if she decides that office won’t open soon, perhaps she will change her thinking. There will be continuing pressure for her to do so.

Many political observers believe Rice’s strengths would be more applicable to the United States Senate. Her world view was on display at the Republican Convention as she argued that, internationally, someone has to argue for free people and free markets, and that the United States must maintain a strong military. “If we leave a vacuum” … the “world that will not be good for our interest or our values, and so America has to lead.”

That’s not to say Rice couldn’t handle the executive position of governor. She even has delved into state issues as a member of the Think Long Committee of California.  In her convention speech, Rice touched on principles that she said would rebuild California including individual responsibility, private sector growth and what she called “private space” respecting the choices that others make.

The tone of the principles she laid out for the state had a libertarian tinge. She said “the private sector needs low regulations and low taxes to do what it does best, create jobs for the people.”

But listening to Rice speak, I could not help think of another position that the former Secretary of State might consider – especially given the way national and international politics are shaping up.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris Cillizza’s popular “The Fix” column in the Washington Post listed possible 2016 Vice-Presidential candidates. Condoleezza Rice was not on it. She should be.

Rice’s inclusion on a VP list becomes more logical if Republicans nominate a governor for president and the international situation continues to boil. Rice’s knowledge and experience would add the needed gravitas to the ticket.

Could she handle the usual assignment given to VP candidates – carry a hatchet to be used against nominees from the other party? She probably would not want the role in the traditional sense, I suspect. But in her own way, she can criticize her opponents’ views, as she did when declaring United States exceptional during her speech.

Pressure for Rice to declare for an office will build. Certainly, if either current California U.S. Senator decides not to run for re-election, Republicans will beat a path to her door. The 2018 gubernatorial election would be open if Gov. Brown is re-elected, prompting more calls for Rice to get involved. Her name has been floated in connection with the national ticket in past elections. It will be again.

Condoleezza Rice would be a strong addition to a 2016 Republican national ticket. And, if the international situation continues to deteriorate, perhaps Republicans might even start thinking of her for the top of the ticket.

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