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It was probably just a trial balloon of some sort, but the report that Mitt Romney is considering selecting Condoleezza Rice as his vice-presidential running mate is, shall we say, troubling.
If he goes through with the idea, it could well cost him the election and the rest of us the country.
Let me count the ways this notion is disastrous:
- Rice is admittedly “pro-choice” – a silly euphemism for pro-abortion. Not only should that fact disqualify her from being nominated, but her appointment would also represent Romney’s first official betrayal of his own word to appoint a pro-life vice president. This act alone will cause an undetermined, but no insignificant number, of Americans to stay home on Election Day rather than vote for Romney. It’s just a fact. And, for the life of me, I can’t think of one person who will vote for Romney because of such a selection. He won’t gain any black votes. He won’t gain any women voters.
- Rice’s non-academic accomplishments are meager, to say the least. She was not a force for good foreign policy during the Bush administration. And just about anyone connected so closely with the Bush administration would also represent a drag on the ticket. Republicans may look back nostalgically at the Bush years, but they are smart enough to know that they were not years for the triumph of conservatism in Washington. Bush policies really did contribute to the economic disaster that began under his watch. He really did make a mess of the Middle East. He really did not have any coherent economic, foreign policy or defense strategy.
- Rice’s academic expertise is in an area that won’t help any future administration. She’s an expert on the old Soviet Union. Of what use is that knowledge today? What does she bring to table other than her gender and race? Romney could definitely use some foreign-policy help. But he needs experts in Islam, the Middle East, China, Mexico, India, Latin America. Rice has no background in any of those fields. While in the Bush administration, she essentially parroted the party line on the two-state solution in the Middle East. Can anyone point to a single accomplishment she achieved while serving in Washington?
- Rice is not a conservative – and Romney badly needs to shore up his base to ensure none of it stays home on Election Day, like it did in 2008. Rice represents the establishment, country-club Republican wing of the party. That is the last thing Romney, who comes from the same wing, needs in a vice-presidential nominee. That bird just won’t fly.
- The GOP vice-presidential nominee should be someone the party looks to as a successor in 2016 or 2020. Rice is not presidential timber – not no way, not no how.
Romney keeps referring to himself as a problem-solver. The first problem he needs to solve to gain the White House from a weak incumbent is to make a smart pick for vice president. Is this really the best he can do? It’s such a bad idea, it’s almost shocking.
Romney is already running dead-even with the White House incumbent, which is truly amazing at this stage of the campaign. I think he can win and free America from this Obama scourge. But he won’t do it by being stupid. He won’t do it by blowing it with his first major decision as a candidate. He won’t do it by playing racial and gender politics with something as important as the choice of a person a heartbeat from the presidency.