We have now arrived at the latest of many “silly segments” in reporting on this year’s presidential race. The Internet is abuzz with reports that those close to Mitt Romney claim that the “front-runner” to be his running-mate is former Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
It’s no secret that Matt Drudge, the Internet impresario who posted blaring headlines playing up the Rice rumors, has close ties to people inside the Romney camp. So whatever leaks Drudge got certainly come from people who might be in a position to know.
But I have it on good authority from a top Romney campaign official that there is “zero” chance that Rice will be on the presidential ticket. Conversations with several people who know Mitt Romney’s thinking say he will approach the selection of a running-mate with military-style planning and an emphasis on picking someone who doesn’t have too many negatives. The Rice rumors look to be someone’s clever idea of changing the subject during a slow campaign — i.e., all of the attacks being launched by Team Obama on Romney’s ties to Bain Capital — rather than a serious trial balloon.
Rice herself seems to be realistic about her political prospects. “There is no way that I will do this,” she told CBS News just last month. “I know my strengths, and Governor Romney needs to find someone who wants to run with him.”
Those were wise words. Both Rice and Team Romney are well aware of her assets and her liabilities. Here are the most notable issues that make likely Rice won’t be on the GOP ticket:
She is on the wrong side of same-sex marriage and abortion as far as Romney’s political base is concerned. She goes beyond most Republicans in actually calling for legal abortion. Polls over several elections have shown that a significant number of “values voters” might stay home if a GOP presidential ticket included a candidate with those views.
President Obama has the African-American vote sewed up, and the presence of Rice on the ticket would be unlikely to dislodge many voters from those loyalties.
Being from California, she would also not affect enough votes to put that state in play in November.
Her record as secretary of state was mixed. It includes some successes but also featured a truly disastrous kowtowing to North Korea, which has continued its nuclear program despite several U.S. attempts to cut a deal with the rogue regime.
Lastly, Rice has never campaigned for anything outside the faculty lounge at Stanford (where she is provost today). While she is an accomplished public speaker, it is a high-risk endeavor to nominate someone for national office who has limited political experience on the national stage — see Sarah Palin. Rookies make mistakes and can’t fully appreciate the turbulence of a national campaign until they are in it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Rice were selected for a key foreign-policy advisory role in a Romney administration. But don’t look for her on the slate of the Tampa Republican convention. She won’t be there.