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'Rice for VP' chatter offers Romney a more pleasant subject

July 13, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • In this file photo, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.
In this file photo, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at… (Rogelio V. Solis / AP File…)

A Wall Street Journal column. A post on the Drudge Report. Can entreaties from the Republican base convince Mitt Romney to choose former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate, and, perhaps more important, persuade her to accept?

Likely answer? It's not happening.

Or was this just a push in the conservative press to change the conversation to anything but Bain Capital, where, according to a news story in the Boston Globe on Thursday, Mitt Romney was still showing up on corporate filings as the chief executive for three years after he said he left the firm in 1999? (The firm explained it away as a failure to update paperwork, saying Bain was in transition to a new management group after Romney left to run the Olympics.) That matters because, according to the Obama campaign, that means Romney was still involved with Bain as it outsourced jobs in the early 2000s.

PHOTOS: The search for Romney's running mate

Time will tell. But speculation about Rice as a vice presidential pick is reaching a fever pitch -- at least in the media, if not the Romney camp -- after Drudge posted an “exclusive” article Thursday night claiming that Romney has narrowed his list of VP picks and that Rice is at the top. Drudge says the announcement will be made “in coming weeks.”

“A surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice!” the report says.

It  follows a column by conservative Wall Street Journal writer Peggy Noonan, who bemoaned the lack of enthusiasm about the presidential race, writing that when she brought up Rice’s name at a “gathering of businesspeople,” she was met with loud applause.

An April CNN poll of Republican and independent voters also said they preferred Rice as a vice presidential choice. More than a quarter of those polled said they wanted to see Rice as the vice presidential pick, while 21% said they preferred Rick Santorum. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each got 14% of the vote, with others including Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. Bobby Jindal coming in at the bottom of the list.

Rice’s qualifications are evident: She has extensive foreign policy experience, name recognition and she’s a black woman in a year in which Republicans are under fire for their policies toward women and African Americans (Romney was recently booed at the NAACP Convention, though House minority leader Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) said Thursday Romney probably welcomed the booing). But Rice has conservative flaws, too: she’s pro-choice and is affiliated with former President  George W. Bush, who is still an unpopular figure among many voters. Conservatives including radio host Mark Levin have said Rice is not conservative enough to join Romney’s ticket.

“This is a bad idea. No offense, Condi Rice,” he said, on his radio show. Matthew Archbold of the National Catholic Register also blogged that he wouldn’t vote for a Romney/Rice ticket because of Rice’s position on abortion.

And then there’s the problem of Rice’s interest in the job, which she has said hovers at zero.

“I’m saying there is no way that I will do this. It’s really not me,” she said on CBS News last month, after giving a speech to Romney donors in Utah. “I know my strengths, and Gov. Romney needs to find someone who wants to run with him. There are many people who will do it very, very well.”

It’s not so unusual for politicians to say they’re not running for something, and then run for it anyway – Marco Rubio, for instance, told David Gregory that he “won’t consider” being vice president, but the Romney campaign recently confirmed he’s being vetted. But, as Rice pointed out, she’s no politician.

Romney campaign staffers say the pick will be announced before the GOP convention, which begins Aug. 27 in Florida.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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