Today, the political world is
abuzz over speculation that former National Security Advisor and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice is the frontrunner to be named as Mitt Romney’s running
mate on the GOP ticket.
Rice is a talented and impressive
woman, who would bring an interesting mix of experience and intellect to the
ticket. After her service in the George W. Bush administration, Rice removed
herself from the political spotlight and has been serving as a professor at Stanford University the last few years.
While she has strong credentials
in foreign policy, she is not the right choice for Mitt Romney. Rice is fairly
liberal on social issues. In a 2008 CBS interview, Rice noted that she was "mildly
pro-choice." To have a GOP ticket with a presidential candidate who used
to be supportive of abortion rights and a pro-choice running mate is
unthinkable. This would be a slap in the face to the core of the Republican
Party, the social conservatives.
Many social conservatives doubt
Romney’s conversion to a pro-life position, considering his frequent pledges in
the past to support abortion rights. If he chose a “mildly pro-choice” running
mate, some social conservative voters may abandon the Republican ticket. While
they will not vote for Obama, these voters may vote third party or stay home.
Even if it is just a small percentage of social conservatives that leave the
GOP over the running mate issue, it could be devastating to the Romney
campaign, which cannot afford to alienate any voters who are already suspicious
of the presumptive nominee.
While the Rice talk may be a
trial balloon, it could also been a real possibility. Recently, Mrs. Romney
said that the campaign was “looking at (picking a woman), and I love that
option as well.” Rice may appeal to female voters, as well as African American
voters who supported Barack Obama in huge numbers in the 2008 election.
On the other hand, Rice has
more drawbacks than just her pro-choice stance. Rice also supports a pathway to
citizenship for illegal immigrants and laments that immigration reform was not
accomplished during the Bush administration. This is in stark contrast to
Romney’s stated position and the views of most conservative Republicans.
Condi Rice is a close associate
to George W. Bush and her selection would remind voters of the unpopular former
President. It would show that the Romney campaign is closely tied to the Bush
family and their surrogates. Just this week, Romney generated millions in
donations at a fundraiser with former Vice President Dick Cheney. Having Rice
on the ticket would allow Democrats to claim that Romney represents “another
four years of George W. Bush.” For a variety of valid political and policy
reasons, Republicans need to move away from the Bush era if they expect to win.
Along with moderate to liberal
positions on some key issues, Rice’s other liability is that she has never run
for office and has no real political experience. Serving in a cabinet is not
the same as hustling on the campaign trail each day looking for votes.
Since Romney is a moderate on so
many issues with scant conservative credentials, he should really focus his
selection on a strong conservative who can ideologically balance the ticket and
lead a united Republican Party into the November election. Condi Rice does not
satisfy that important requirement and if she is the vice presidential nominee
it will create more division in an already fragmented Republican Party.
Hopefully Governor Romney will be
steered in the ideologically right direction on this crucial decision.