Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee at a fundraiser in California last night, saying he understands the nation’s special place in the world.
Rice, 57, spoke at an event the former Massachusetts governor attended in Hillsborough, California, near where she teaches at Stanford University. Romney clinched the nomination two days ago, winning the party primary in Texas.
“If America is going to rebuild its strength at home, rebuild its sense of who we are, it needs a leader that also understands how really exceptional the United States of America is, and is not afraid to lead on the basis of that exceptionalism,” Rice told about 300 donors. “The only thing that people dislike more than unilateral American leadership is no American leadership at all.”
Rice is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Romney because the former Bush administration official would boost his foreign policy credentials, help secure women’s votes and potentially draw black voters who have been loyal to President Barack Obama.
During last night’s event, Romney, 65, praised the innovation of the Silicon Valley area while questioning federal government investment in certain businesses. He cited as an example Solyndra LLC, a solar-panel manufacturer that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the government only to go bankrupt.
“Then there’s the president’s policy to become a venture capitalist,” Romney said. “That’s a tough job. We’ve got a few venture capitalists in the audience tonight, I know. He’s decided he can do it better than you guys can.”
Romney said business will be less willing to invest, if the government is picking winners and losers.
“The president doesn’t understand that when he invests like that in one solar energy company, he makes it harder for solar technology generally,” he said. “The scores of other entrepreneurs in the solar field suddenly lost their opportunity to get capital. Who wants to put money in a solar company when the government puts a half a billion into one of its choice?”
As she praised Romney, Rice said America’s strength in the world comes from the fact that anyone in the U.S. can rise to do great things.
“That’s the truly exceptional nature of this country,” she told those gathered at the Carolands mansion. “It’s understood in this world. Its leadership is craved in this world. And Governor Romney, you can bring it back.”
In March, Rice rejected the possibility of being Romney’s running mate, saying on Fox News that she prefers policy to politics, adding that the latter is not her “strong suit.”
“I think we should go another direction and find somebody who really wants to be in elected office,” she said. “How many ways can I say it? Not me.”
Secretary of State
Rice, the first black woman to become secretary of state, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She served as Stanford’s provost from 1993 to 1999. She was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, during George W. Bush’s second term, and was national security adviser in his first term.
In her memoir published last year, Rice wrote how she often clashed with former Vice President Dick Cheney over what to do with captured terrorism suspects and other matters. She also defended some of the most controversial foreign policy decisions of the Bush administration, including the invasion of Iraq.
After leaving Washington, Rice returned to her academic career as a political science professor and fellow at the Hoover Institution. Rice also started a company with colleagues from the Bush administration to advise U.S. businesses investing in emerging markets.
Contribution to Economy
George Shultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, also endorsed the presumptive nominee at the fundraiser. In his speech, he defended Romney’s record as an executive at Bain Capital LLC, a Boston-based private equity firm.
“What he has done at Bain Capital has been a major contribution to the American economy,” said Shultz, who also served in the cabinet of Richard Nixon with Romney’s father, George.
Venture capital firms “help make our economy more competitive; they learn how to keep costs under control; they are the kind of people who help figure out where to put investments,” Shultz said.
“He has learned and instinctively can feel what it takes to get this huge amount of money that is sitting on the sidelines of our economy to move forward and invest,” he said.
© Copyright 2015 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.