With Governor Mitt Romney’s win in Michigan, the Republican nomination battle is wide open. A different man has won each of the first three contests, and none of the prospective GOP standard bearers is an odds-on favorite. In fact, we believe to that for any of these men to be successful they will need to look to a special woman for help. That woman is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
There's an old tradition in America, dating back to George Washington, that men -- and now women -- of presidential quality don't seek the presidency. But with the exception of General William T. Sherman, who famously said that if he was nominated he would not run, and if elected he would not serve, saying "no" to the White House run has pretty assuredly meant "yes." In recent years, the act of declining the presidential race is more a political calculation than a sign of magnanimity.
But with Condi, there is a record of magnanimity that suggests she may be different. Condoleezza Rice doesn't seek positions. She lets them find her, saying, "Everything I’ve done that’s been exciting was never planed."
For now, she has said her plans after serving as secretary of state are to return to California and teach at Stanford. As she told a classroom of schoolchildren in California, "I hope to see some of you at Stanford when I get back." When Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press asked Condi in March 2005 if she would run for president, she replied, "Tim, I don't want to run for president of the United States." Russert continued to probe for a final answer, and she said, "I will not run for president of the United States. How is that? I don't know how many ways to say `no' in this town. I really don't."
When polls in August 2006 were showing Condi as one of the top three potential presidential contenders for 2008, she told reporters that she was flattered but said she was "hoping that in these last two and a half years as secretary of state that I can help to advance the president's vision for democracy."
Although Condi has said that she will not run for president, it is likely that any Republican nominee could ask Condi to serve as a candidate for vice president. Condi has proven herself a loyal member of the Bush team, a skilled diplomat, a fine teacher and administrator, a woman of character and faith who exhibits grace under fire. She has also shown she can deal effectively with any crisis. Not only that, Condi has the rare and priceless ability to lead and inspire nations. Of course, she's a black woman too. If she were elected, it would be a triumph of the principles on which the nation was founded.
Who would have thought, when Condi was growing up in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s, that one day a little black girl would grow up to be presidential or vice presidential material? In 1776, it would have been almost unthinkable. But the principles of 1776 outlasted the prejudices of the day. The central idea of the Declaration of Independence is that all human beings are "created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" has survived, and thrived.
The success of Condi Rice is a testimony to the resilience of America's principles, principles that Condi believes are true for all people in the world. Condi also believes that America is not on a mission to remake the world in its image, but to advance the ideals common to all men and women. It just so happens that America was founded on these principles. At the end of the day, it is not because of one's racial group or socioeconomic class or creed that he or she is entitled to the rights that come from God. Condi told a group of black journalists in 2002: "Who you are is who you are as an individual".
Condi has demonstrated all her life that she could rise above the odds and achieve amazing feats. Few people better personify the American dream.
Rice says she has learned in life "not to look that far ahead; to do what you’re doing, do it well, and see what comes next." Not only that, she says, "If you constantly concentrate on a five-year plan, then you might miss an opportunity to do something far more interesting. Everything I’ve done that’s been exciting was never planed." Hopefully the most exciting job to date will be offered to Condoleezza Rice by a Republican nominee that needs to energize his campaign.
Condoleezza Rice’s life turns out to be like playing connect-the-dots. All the ingredients to be an excellent VP are there, they just need to be attached. When you connect all the dots in her life, they add up to becoming the Republican candidate for vice president.
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