A published report stating that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now the “front-runner” for the Republican vice presidential nomination has sparked chatter across the political spectrum.
The Drudge Report created a buzz Thursday night when it asserted that Mitt Romney has narrowed the field of candidates for vice president to a “handful,” and said “a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Condoleezza Rice.”
The story noted that Rice received two standing ovations when she spoke at Romney’s Utah retreat several weeks ago, “and everyone left with her name on their lips.”
An online poll conducted by Drudge showed 64 percent of respondents believe that Romney should pick Rice. Nearly half a million people had responded by late Friday afternoon.
Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2008, said Rice would be a “wonderful” running mate for Romney.
Palin told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren: “I think her credentials far surpass Barack Obama or [Vice President] Joe Biden.”
It also might be noted that when Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts, he chose a woman, Kerry Healey, as his lieutenant governor, and Rice was the top choice of Republicans in a CNN poll in April asking who respondents would like to see as Romney’s running mate.
But Rice herself has repeatedly stated that she is not interested in the vice presidential slot.
“I think we should go in another direction and find somebody who really wants to be in elected office,” Rice said recently. “How many ways can I say it? Not me.”
Rice, now the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said she prefers policy to politics, adding that the latter is not her “strong suit,” the Washington Post reported.
And some conservative voices have dismissed the Drudge Report story. Erick Erickson wrote on his RedState blog that speculation about Rice as Romney’s running mate is “silly.”
He added: “I don’t know who is hitting the crack rock tonight in the rumor mill, but bull shiitake mushrooms.”
Erickson pointed to two factors likely to discourage a Rice nomination: She has called herself “mildly pro-choice” on abortion rights, and she spent eight years working for President George W. Bush, the least popular ex-president alive, according at least one poll.
Katrina Trinko, writing in National Review Online, said Rice’s years in the Bush Cabinet would “seem likely to generate controversy” and observed that there is no group of voters “she would automatically attract.”
Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin said a Rice nomination would be “bad politics.”
Rice and Romney also differ on immigration policy. She has given speeches over the last year publicly lamenting that the Bush administration couldn’t get immigration reforme passed, ABC News reported. Her favorite talking point is: “When did immigrants become the enemy?”
A former Bush administration official told Newsmax he would find it “very surprising” if Rice is being given serious consideration as a running mate for Romney.
“She would be a complete and utter disaster,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“First of all she’s not a team player. She’s arrogant and demanding.”
He also charged that Rice does not bring economic expertise to the ticket and has never held elected office, adding: “The election is an economics election. Why in the world would you put somebody that close to the Bush administration, who had been there eight years? It makes no sense at all.
“If you want to go off message it’s the perfect way to do it. I don’t think she’s somebody who adds anything to a Romney ticket other than controversy and hindering the message of the candidate, which should be all about the economy.”
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