The Drudge Report made a valiant effort to distract from growing questions about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital by breathlessly proclaiming that Romney had a new front-runner for his running-mate. Not just any front-runner, mind you; not Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. No, the person who had bubbled up to the top of the field, according to Drudge, is none other than former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Soon, right-wing pundits and talking heads, grateful to have a chance to stop trying to find a way to make Mitt Romney not CEO of Bain at a time when he was CEO of Bain, began discussing Rice as if she had a real chance of being the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee. Some of the greatest thinkers on the right — well, okay, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin — were soon musing that Rice could be the game-changer that Sarah Palin was supposed to be back in 2008.
Could Condoleezza Rice, who served as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, be Mitt’s pick?
In a word: no.
Leave aside the fact that Rice is tied in deeply to the worst parts of the Bush legacy. Certainly, Rice’s involvement in conceiving the Iraq War would certainly be a liability. Rice was also with Bush when he received the infamous daily briefing about Osama bin Laden’s desire to strike in the U.S. These are not points in her favor.
Rice’s ties to the G.W. Bush Administration would not disqualify her from Republican consideration, though. Plenty of GOP stalwarts have happy memories of our Mesopotamian adventure. Nor will the fact that she’s already said she’s not interested in the position keep Mitt from picking her. American political kabuki has a few hard-and-fast rules, and one of those is that nobody is ever officially seeking the vice presidency. (The corollary to that rule is that nobody turns down an offer of the vice presidency.)
The problem for Rice — and the reason that she will absolutely not be on the ticket, is simple. Condoleezza Rice is pro-choice.
Rice isn’t just rumored to be pro-choice. She characterized herself as pro-choice in a 2008 interview with 60 Minutes:
I myself am someone who believes strongly in parental notification. … I’m against late-term abortion, which is, I think, really very cruel. I have not wanted to see [Roe v. Wade] changed because it’s an area that I worry about the government being involved in.
This apostasy would be bad enough to keep her off the ticket even if the GOP was set to nominate Randall Terry for president. It’s long been rumored that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wanted to put Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., on the Republican ticket in 2008, but relented when it became clear that the convention would revolt against the choice. McCain had a staunch anti-choice record, but party faithful were unwilling to budge on one of the Republican Party’s core social issue positions.
Mitt Romney is already viewed by anti-abortion activists with skepticism. Romney himself was pro-choice until he decided to run for president, and he invested in a company that disposes of medical waste, including aborted fetuses. He has said the right things to placate his base, and they’ve decided to believe him. Picking Rice, however, would be a clear sign that he was not serious about the anti-choice cause, and could lead to widespread defections from the GOP ranks.
Rice has other factors working against her. She’s been insufficiently anti-immigration. While she has served as Secretary of State, she has never run for political office. And while it’s a ridiculous reason not to choose someone to be vice president, rumors about her sexuality have been swirling for years. It’s highly unlikely the Republican Party would be ready to choose an unmarried woman who is, therefore, rumored to be a lesbian, to be on their ticket.
Abortion, more than anything else, is what will keep her off the ticket. The Republican Party has made anti-choice activism the most important issue in the wake of the 2010 wave. It beggars belief that they’d be willing to ignore the issue this year, even if it would allow them to defeat Barack Obama. The speculation that Rice could be on the ticket is ludicrous. It does distract people from discussing Romney’s credibility problems with regard to his time at Bain, though, so Matt Drudge accomplished his primary mission.
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