John McCaslin

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a little girl - about the same time that one of her classmates was killed in the infamous 1963 Birmingham church bombing - she was photographed by her father, John, in front of the White house.

And she told him, "One day, I'm going to live there."

Divine intervention?

"I worked for Elizabeth Dole for president in 1999, and you could feel the historic momentum - the buzz was nationwide. It's time for a woman in the White House," says Crystal Dueker, the Midwest's acting chairwoman of Americans for Rice.

She points to a new poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute that found that 81 percent of 1,125 people surveyed would vote for a woman for president. And whereas the poll also identifies New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as a favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, the majority on the Republican side clearly favors Rice.

What's the attraction?

"I look at somebody who doesn't need training wheels when they enter the White House," Dueker says in a telephone interview. "I would like her to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan, all of whom held the position of secretary of state before they became president."

Others are impressed with the former White House national security adviser's international-relations background, including talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, who said of Rice: "There is no pretense, no power play, none of the usual false airs. . . . She's got the power, and everyone knows it."

"I look at statesmanship, where she stands on the world stage and her ability to deal with foreign leaders," agrees Dueker. "Some people say she never held elective office. Well, this is a woman who doesn't need training. She has name recognition, and she is charming."

The group (AmericansForRice.com) is already busy organizing a support network across the country and plans to make its presence felt at the New Hampshire Lincoln-Reagan Dinner March 4.

PAINTER'S HELPERS

Cans of bright red paint and brushes, symbolizing the so-called red states that supported President Bush in the 2004 election, were hand-delivered Wednesday to key leaders of the Democratic Party.

"Now that you've anointed a raving left-wing radical to chair the DNC, you're likely to need these," said the accompanying message from the gift giver - the online political action network Laptop America - referring to newly crowned Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

DON'T BE DASCHLED


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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