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Condi for prez?

The authors of a fascinating new book, “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race,” speculate that the only Republican presidential candidate who can defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2008 is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Written by the regularly astute Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, the book chronicles the vast differences between these two public figures. It is an enthralling look into the histories and careers of two wildly dissimilar women.

Mrs. Clinton is portrayed as the perpetually polarizing figure who has diligently worked to enhance her public image. She is a woman who, according to the authors, will “draw millions of new voters to her side that Kerry couldn’t and didn’t (in 2004).”

This is troubling news for conservatives.

Morris and McGann speculate that the one candidate – an as yet undeclared candidate, at that – who can immobilize Mrs. Clinton’s political juggernaut is Condi Rice.

The authors reason that Ms. Rice can uniquely dig into Sen. Clinton’s core strength – the female vote. She can also theoretically enlist more African American voters than any GOP candidate has been able to claim.

These theories seem quite plausible, but I’m concerned that Morris and McGann have swept over one very critical point in their Condi Rice premise – their candidate is pro-choice on abortion.

While conservatives would certainly relish voting the first African-American woman into the Oval Office, her support of abortion-rights policies stands as a prohibitive factor in terms of her converting evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics into her camp.

Maybe her views on abortion have changed over the years. Ronald Reagan, who became a pro-life hero, once held more liberal views on abortion. And Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008, stated last year that his views on abortion have undergone a transformation. He told USA Today that he was “‘in a different place” on abortion than when he first ran for public office.

If Condoleezza Rice eventually declares her candidacy for the White House, I would hope that she would sit down with national pro-life leaders and clarify her views on abortion.

In an interview with The Washington Times in March, Ms. Rice described herself as “mildly pro-choice.” That is hardly a term that will placate pro-life voters. It is not enough that, as “Condi vs. Hillary” notes, she “opposes late-term abortions and Medicaid payments for abortion and wants parental notification and consent where a minor is involved.”

These are all good things in terms of turning back the numbers of abortion in our nation.

The key problem lies herein: “[Ms. Rice] supports the basic libertarian idea that it is up to a woman to decide whether to have an abortion, and she is against getting the government involved,” Morris and McGann state.

Maybe the authors believe that the support of the pro-life community would be unnecessary if Ms. Rice could make the predicted inroads in traditionally Democrat-dominated voter blocs.

I hope this isn’t true. Such a shift in philosophy might work in the short-term but it would be devastating to the Republican Party over the course of time.

For now, we have only Condoleezza Rice’s own concise words to understand where she stands on the topic of abortion in America. She calls it an “extremely difficult moral issue,” one that she approaches from a “deeply religious” perspective.

I appreciate that she brings her faith into the equation. But she will need to understand that faith is the basis for multiple millions of Americans who believe that life is a precious gift from God – and that it begins at conception.

These Americans will expect their next presidential candidate to continue the pro-life traditions of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. I would be delighted to learn down the road that Condoleezza Rice is the person to continue that important legacy.

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“Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race”