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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

August 2, 2012 at 7:09 AM

Why Mitt Romney should select Condoleezza Rice as his VP

Mitt Romney turns up the heat on his VP running mate choice by announcing a new mobile app for the occasion. Should he pick Condoleezza Rice?

SEATTLE — We are mired in election season doldrums, that seemingly endless period of the election cycle where it feels as if we are drowning in talk, talk, talk. With the Republican Party national convention not until the end of this month, followed by the Democratic Party gathering in early September, speculation has become a spectator sport.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia)

Next up? Another round of “Name that Vice President!”

Taking a page from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Mitt Romney’s campaign on Tuesday released Mitt’s VP, a smartphone app that will tell you his choice for running mate–just as soon as Romney decides to make that decision public. To his campaign’s credit, Romney didn’t misspell America this time.

With the Romney campaign maintaining radio silence on the VP pick, some pundits have suggested Rob Portman (U.S. Senator, Ohio) should have the number two slot. Others have pitched Tim Pawlenty (former governor of Minnesota) or Marco Rubio (U.S. Senator, Florida). Bobby Jindal (governor of Lousiana) has also been mentioned as a contender.

And then there is Condoleezza Rice. How about her?

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), a left-leaning public opinion survey firm, having Rice on the ticket could have a big impact in Michigan (16 electoral votes) and Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) because she’s viewed favorably by Democrats in both states. In 2008, Obama took 57.4% of the Michigan vote and 54.7% of the Pennsylvania vote. Both are critical swing states in 2012.

This bi-partisan support makes Rice, 57, a valuable political figure if Romney decides he wants to attract Independents or Democrats. In Pennsylvania Rice’s favorability rating is 60% (vs. 27% unfavorable); in Michigan it is 56% (vs. 28%). These numbers are significant, even after accounting for polling margin of error (Pennsylvania is +/-3.6% and Michigan is +/-4.1%).

If the PPP data are solid, Rice should be his number one pick.

Here’s why:

1. She’s an African-American, Christian woman
Romney, 65, is a wealthy Mormon who could benefit from having the trifecta — an African-American, Christian, woman — as a running mate. A woman who has no signs of reality TV in her past, present, or future and will not likely be spoofed by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, a la Sarah Palin. Evangelicals seem to still be struggling with Romney’s Mormon faith, which, until 1978, would not allow African Americans to be ordained into priesthood. By the way, she also is wicked smart.

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of State)

2. Similar views on foreign policy and leadership
As a former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under George W. Bush, Rice has actual, real-live foreign policy experience. She’s an asset that no amount of Wall Street moneymaking can produce. In Financial Times op-ed, she argues that America must overcome its “reluctance to lead.” That’s another take on what Romney said in a speech last week in London, in which he blamed President Obama’s foreign policy for having “diminished American leadership” around the world.

3. She’s “mildly pro-choice”
In a 2005 interview with The Washington Times, Rice described her position on abortion as “mildly pro-choice.” She expanded on this during an interview with CBS New’s 60 Minutes in 2008, which was mentioned in an article two weeks ago in ABC News blog, The Note:

“I myself am someone who believes strongly in parental notification. … I’m against late-term abortion, which is, I think, really very cruel.” But she said does not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. “I have not wanted to see the law changed because it’s an area that I worry about the government being involved in.”

Being “mildly pro-choice” would help Romney appeal to moderate voters, but Christian conservatives have loudly objected to Rice because of this issue. The reality, though, is that only 20% of Americans believe abortion should always be illegal. And ideological differences between the presidential nominee and his VP pick are not uncommon. For example, President George W. Bush opposed same-sex marriage, but his VP Dick Cheney supported it, at least at the state level.

There it is: three solid reasons why Rice makes sense as a running mate for Romney.

But if Romney wants her on the ticket, he’ll need a big sales pitch. You see, Rice has made it clear she has no desire to be Vice President of the United States or run for elected office. But then, that’s what all potential VPs say.

Comments | More in National | Topics: Condi, Condoleezza Rice, Mitt Romney

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