To focus on Condoleezza Rice's skin color or her gender is to miss why she would be the perfect VP pick for Mitt Romney.
On Thursday evening, "The Drudge Report" reported the rumor that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was being considered by the Romney campaign as a potential pick for Vice President. Predictably, talk has focused on the fact that Rice is African-American and a woman, with a Washington Post op-ed framing her as the "anti-Palin."
While these are certainly factors to consider -- anything that could make a dent in Obama's unfathomable domination of the black community would be welcome -- it is folly to focus on these as Rice's strengths. I propose that she has four characteristics that make her the perfect choice for Romney's running mate.
Foreign Policy Background
Rice's biggest strength by a mile is also Romney's biggest weakness -- knowledge and experience of foreign policy. Romney's two pillars of experience are his work in the private sector and his time as the governor of Massachusetts. While perfectly serviceable credentials, and certainly much stronger than the man currently occupying the White House, they contain no foreign policy background.
This is exemplified in Romney's book "No Apology." The chapters on domestic policy are written with large helpings of personal experience, while the foreign policy sections rely almost exclusively on secondary sources. His international arguments are sound, but reek of speculation.
Possibly for this reason, the Romney campaign has shied away from sinking its teeth into Obama's dismal record abroad, for it knows that the Democrat's attack will be "Obama knows what it's like to make these decisions - Romney doesn't."
Rice is a game changer here. First as Security Advisor from 2001-2005 and then as Secretary of State from 2005-2009, Rice played a fundamental role in forming foreign policy during the Bush Administration. Although these roles contained failures as well as successes, it means the Republicans would have a VP pick who (in terms of time served) has more foreign policy experience than the current President.
It would form a devastating tag team whereby Romney could savage the President for his dismal domestic record, and then step back while Rice takes apart his foreign policy "achievements."
Executive Branch Experience at the National Level
Linked closely to Ms. Rice's background in foreign policy is the fact that she held the of Secretary of State between 2005 and 2009 and therefore has national experience in the executive branch. This again fills in for one of Romney's imperfections - that he has no experience at the national level.
While this is by no means a weakness (many presidential candidates do not), Rice's time as the third-highest official in the executive branch not only rule out questions of whether the VP pick is "ready" for the , it also intensifies the spotlight on the current President's complete lack of previous qualifications.
When the Republican's Vice Presidential nominee could argue that she has more experience under her belt than a sitting President, it would be an uncomfortable situation for the Democrats to say the least.
Although the Palin experience tells us how quickly popular poll numbers can change, it is undeniable that Rice's numbers are astonishingly high among both Republicans and the public at large for a nationally well-known political figure.
In a CNN poll of Republicans in April, she held an 80% approval rating - which seems to dismiss concerns that her soft tendencies on issues like abortion could upset grassroots conservatives. This, with the fact that the Obamacare Supreme Court decision has fired up conservatives on an unprecedented level, should quell the fears of anyone worried that a Romney-Rice ticket wouldn't mobilize the base. They are mobilized to the teeth, and a Rice pick won't change that.
Yet it is her likeability with the public at large that should raise eyebrows. Among likely US voters, Rasmussen reports that Condi has a 66% favorability rating, with 32% viewing her Very Favorably. Only 24% have a somewhat or Very Unfavorable view of her.
It is for this reason I disagree with Erick Erickson who dismisses her for her connection to Bush. Yes, Ms. Rice is connected to the Bush administration, but she has managed not to be tainted by it. It's the best of both worlds for conservatives.
This last point is probably the point in which she is the least unique, as there are a whole host of candidates who have solid rhetorical skills and who are good in a debate. Yet the fact that it is just another feather in her cap as opposed to a defining characteristic -- as is the case with someone like Chris Christie -- proves what a strong candidate Condi is.
As an academic, Rice knows how to make her point clearly, in a concise and professional manner, and with passion. Although judgments on these matters are largely subjective, rumors that her recent speech in Park City led to two standing ovations amongst Republican elites, and immediately put her at the top of Romney's list, give weight to this claim.
Condi also brings an unflappable calmness in the face of intense criticism that allows her to stop an attack in its track and deconstruct the opposition argument in a way that can be truly breathtaking. I saw her at a book signing a few years ago at which she was heckled by a number of screaming liberals throughout. Each time she'd let them speak before annihilating their talking points with a polite smile, in the same way she has been filmed doing time and time again. A debate between Rice and Joe Biden would be a bloodbath.
Therefore, Condoleezza Rice has a wealth of experience that would both compensate for Romney's weaknesses and open up new avenues of attack against Obama, she is hugely popular with both Republicans and the public at large, and we know that she is going to be a fierce foe in any debate in which she participates.
There is no need to discuss her skin color or her gender to know that Condoleezza Rice would be an incredibly effective pick for VP. Yes, it's a bold move, but should Romney stick his neck out on this one, Ms. Rice could prove to be a game changer who could deliver a landslide for the Republicans in November.