The Drudge Report set off a firestorm late Thursday when it reported that Condoleezza Rice was the front runner for the vice presidential nod from Mitt Romney. Cheers and jeers could be heard from all around, along much speculation as to whether this would be a good thing or a winning move for the campaign. It was a lot of wasted energy because it will never happen.
The original report had credibility because it’s an open secret that Matt Drudge is close to the Romney campaign. It was obviously a tip that Romney’s folks had given him. But it makes no sense for a couple of reasons: one from Romney’s standpoint and one from hers.
From Romney’s Standpoint
Romney wants three things in a VP. First, he wants someone who would be a plausible president if the need arose. She fills that bill. She has served as a president’s national security adviser and as Secretary of State. Second, someone who is a safe pick who will do no harm (he doesn’t need to throw a “Hail Mary” with his veep pick). Third, someone who won’t steal his thunder. She doesn’t pass muster on those last two.
By definition a selection is not safe if the person has never run for office before. I don’t care how long he or she has been around politics. When it’s your fanny on the line and it’s you they’re taking shots at, it’s different. I have seen tough operators seasoned by years of political warfare crumble when they were attacked after deciding to run for offices much less exalted than vice president. Condi has never run or had the desire to run. And no one has any idea what she thinks about the host of domestic policy issues, other than she is, as she puts it “mildly pro choice.” I don’t care how mild it is, that’s causing some Republicans severe heart burn that will not go away. And Romney has already said that he would select a pro life VP nominee.
On the second point concerning “stealing his thunder,” I’m not just talking about the ego that any person in Romney’s position would have, and the fact that as a black, female, Republican she’s just more interesting than any of us white-bread guys. It’s just that, as much as possible, Romney wants to set the agenda and define the issues as he sees them. With Condoleezza Rice, the discussion over the Bush years would increase considerably. While a lot of good things happened in those years, she was deeply involved in some of the most controversial parts. North Korea, Iran, weapons of mass destruction, etc. You can bet that the press and the Obama campaign, which would try to break her in every sense of the word, would not be focusing on anything that she wanted to talk about.
From Rice’s Standpoint
What about the nomination from her vantage point? I’m afraid that this is where the notion is doomed to fail for another reason. It is a fact that Condi Rice is a rational and sane person. She has been a part of the process, up close and knows all of the points that I’ve made above. But, more importantly, she obviously doesn’t like politics very much. She has always been, and still is, a policy person. It’s my guess that, regardless of what she thinks of his presidency and especially his policies that are diminishing the United States and its status in the world, the last thing in the world she would enjoy doing is spending the next few months ripping into Barack Obama, which the vice presidential nominee will be required to do.
The liberal Democratic black “leaders,” who claim to speak for all African Americans, would accuse her of being a traitor or worse.
So the question arises, why would Romney aides put this out? Was it to change the subject from Bain and Obama’s attacks? I thought that Romney was getting the best of Obama the last few days. Even the Washington Post has called the Obama attack on outsourcing, lies about every way they know how. Besides, Bain isn’t going away.
About all they’ve done is disappoint Condi supporters and raise suspicions again from pro life folks that Romney is having squishy thoughts. So who knows why they did it. Sometimes smart guys outsmart themselves.
Of course I could be wrong about all of this. In that case, never mind. Please just remember what Yogi said, “Predicting is tough. Especially about the future.”
- Fred Thompson