For all the ink spilled about this week's buzzy dinner between Donald Trump and Mitt Romney, another little get-together is almost as intriguing. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with Vice President-elect Mike Pence Wednesday evening, with word of the meeting breaking on Twitter yesterday afternoon. Keep in mind that Sean Spicer is one of the honchos at the RNC, and is very close with soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Someone wanted this information injected into the media bloodstream:
Vice President-Elect Mike Pence will meet with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, D.C. today, @seanspicer says— Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) November 30, 2016
Allahpundit mulls over a few 'maybes' at Hot Air. Maybe it was purely a courtesy visit, in which Pence simply wanted to seek advice on the transition and/or foreign policy from a smart woman with deep experience. Maybe it was a temperature check to see if Rice has any appetite whatsoever to leave her comfortable perch out west and re-enter public service. She's reportedly been burned out on politics for some time, but that didn't stop her from attending the 2012 Republican National Convention and delivering a stirring address that brought the house down. Might she be open to filling an important role within the administration? She's a patriot, and her resume is exceptionally impressive. Perhaps that was on the agenda. Or maybe this was the latest, savvy round of Team Trump making a public, good-faith show of working to heal wounds from a bloody campaign that witnessed unusually intense fissures within the party (even as the vast, vast majority of Republicans "came home" to Trump in the end). Nevertheless, remember this?
Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw. As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.
That was Rice's Facebook post in the wake of the infamous Access Hollywood audio tape being released, an October surprise that rocked the campaign. That was the last straw for her. But now he's going to be the president. Radio host Buck Sexton said yesterday that in order for the entire GOP to coalesce during the Trump years, two 'Rs' will be essential: Reconciliation and results. Making it clear that people like Rice and Romney are still respected figures within the party, who will have the administration's ear, is at the very least a positive reconciliatory gesture. It sends a signal not only to the individual leaders being beckoned in from the cold, but also to the substantial number of right-leaning voters who'd side with Rice and Romney over Trump every day of the week: President Trump, despite his reputation and all the theatrics, will lead the entire party, not just its Trumpian wing. Even if nothing else comes of Pence's conversation with Condi, just having that discussion -- in person, and with the public's awareness -- strikes me as another positive step. I'll leave you with some excerpts from this CNN piece detailing how intimately involved and influential Mike Pence has been in the formation of the incoming administration. If you're a movement conservative, you're very pleased by many of these details:
Trump's choices so far have reflected Pence's politics -- potentially proving helpful on Capitol Hill, where the Indiana governor and former House Republican leader has long been expected to help Trump most. Pence's devotion to conservative principles -- and his relationships with powerful groups, including the Heritage Foundation -- have allowed him to help Trump navigate a Washington terrain that is unfamiliar to the billionaire business mogul who just ran his first campaign for any office...Trump advisers have consistently said that Pence and Trump consult regularly and that mutual respect was put on display when Trump elevated Pence in his world -- giving him the reins of the transition operation from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In an immediate display of power, Pence ejected the lobbyists who had made up the team assembled by Christie -- turning the transition effort on its head and further strengthening Pence's role in forming the President-elect's team...As Pence did a victory lap in the Capitol two weeks ago, he sat for an extensive meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan in the speaker's office -- just a few yards outside the House chamber. In the middle of the meeting, Rep. Mike Pompeo joined them -- sitting with the two for 20 minutes. Pompeo refused to say what they talked about in the meeting. But aides have noted Pompeo helped Pence on national security-related issues in his debate preparations. And less than 24 hours after the meeting, Trump announced Pompeo was his selection for CIA chief.
It's still the Trump Show, but Pence's role appears to be invaluable so far -- the latest dividends from Trump's good decision to put him on the ticket.