How do you give heartburn simultaneously to Team Obama and to conservatives? Spread a rumor Mitt Romney is thinking of picking former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as his running mate.
Condi Rice is a remarkable woman with an impressive resume. My friend Jack Wheeler and I used to be so high on her that for a (brief) time she was our preferred candidate for president in 2008. But Condi turned out to be a lousy national security adviser, a worse secretary of state. I wouldn't hire her now to organize a two-car funeral.
Which doesn't disqualify her from the vice presidency. Under the Constitution, the vice president's only jobs are to preside over the Senate from time to time, and to wait for the president to die.
Though Condi was a rotten manager, she's very smart, and knows a lot about foreign affairs, which is not an area of expertise for Mr. Romney. She can give good advice, she just shouldn't be responsible for carrying it out. As vice president, she wouldn't be.
Condi would be a very good candidate. She has a pleasant personality, is easy on the eyes and is an excellent speaker. She wowed those who heard her at a Romney fundraiser in Utah June 23.
"Rice electrified Mitt Romney's circle last month with a speech she delivered at the candidate's closed-door June fundraising retreat in Park City," said BuzzFeed. "Rice's forceful and surprisingly partisan 13-minute address ... won her two standing ovations ... It was widely considered the highlight of the weekend."
Skeptics note Condi Rice has never run for anything. But running for office is a lot easier than doing the job. For evidence, see the example of Obama, B.
The campaign so far has been really dull, thinks former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan. The audiences she speaks to agree, she says. But "spontaneous applause burst forth" when she mentioned to a group of business people that Condi might be considered for vice president.
The people who were applauding "looked surprised by their own passion," Ms. Noonan said. "They looked relieved, like a campaign was going on and big things might happen and maybe it could get kind of . . . exciting."
In a Rasmussen poll in April, Condi's favorables/unfavorables were an eye popping 66-24. Team Romney has to be impressed with that.
The principal assets Ms. Rice could bring to the GOP, though, are her gender, and the pigmentation of her skin.
Democrats can't talk about President Obama's accomplishments, because there aren't any. So they charge the president's critics are motivated by racism, or sexism. These smears would get the ridicule they deserve if Condi were Mitt Romney's running mate.
Few think Ms. Rice could pull many blacks over to the GOP, but her presence on the ticket could give cover to blacks unhappy with the president for other reasons, such as his handling of the economy or his embrace of gay marriage. Ms. Rice is, after all, all black, not just half black, and she went to segregated schools in the South, not to a prep school in Hawaii. So I bet Barack Obama is sorry now he blew off the NAACP convention.
Condi gives many conservatives heartburn, too. She's "mildly pro-choice" on abortion, is something of a GloWarmer, supports affirmative action under some circumstances, and was a squish on Iran.
Mr. Romney has lots of good people from which to choose, so he's unlikely to take the risk. And Condi says she doesn't want the job. But if she were the candidate, they'd have to call the vice presidential debate after the first few minutes, on the grounds that to continue would be excessively cruel to Joe Biden.
But if Mr. Obama were to dump Slow Joe for Secretary of the State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the vice presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 11, could be the highlight of the campaign.jackkelly
Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1476. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/