A McCain-Rice pairing is unlikely

The secretary of state isn't exactly part of the Republican in crowd, nor has she shown any real interest in a V.P. role.


Steve Benen
April 7, 2008 11:05PM (UTC)

Dan Senor, a former military spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, raised more than a few eyebrows Sunday with some speculation about a possible running mate for John McCain.

Mr. Senor said [Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] spoke last week before an unusual forum for a secretary of state: a meeting of economic conservatives led by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

"Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for this," Mr. Senor said.

It's obviously little more than a subject of scuttlebutt right now, but it's hard to imagine the circumstances that would prompt McCain to pick Rice for the Republican ticket. Indeed, Senor didn't really have any evidence beyond Rice's appearance at Norquist's meeting, which is pretty thin substantiation and hardly constitutes "actively" campaigning.

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For one thing, Rice doesn't seem at all interested. In February, she explained, "I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States. I didn't even run for high-school president, it's not in my genes."

For another, unless McCain is anxious to help Democrats tie him directly to Bush's failed presidency, he's not likely to pick one of the president's closest buddies. (There was that one time Rice inadvertently referred to Bush as her "husband" ...)

Moreover, she's not exactly part of the Republican in crowd. The party's base seems to tolerate her, but it's not as if she has a solid relationship with the GOP powers that be. Indeed, most Republicans have little confidence that she's conservative on the issues they care about most.

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And finally, not to put too fine a point on the issue, but in her eight years in government service, Rice has been truly awful. Weapons inspector David Kay, charged with finding WMD after the Iraq invasion, referred to Rice in Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" as "probably the worst national security adviser since the office was created." As secretary of state, Rice has repeatedly been wrong about Iraq, has been careless with the facts and has no real accomplishments to speak of.

That hasn't stopped Republican candidates before, of course, but given the hurdles, I suspect Rice would be fairly low on the McCain list of V.P. possibilities.


Steve Benen

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