The political world is abuzz with speculation about the future of Condoleezza Rice after the former secretary of State delivered a resoundingly well-received speech at the Republican convention on Wednesday night. Conservatives called her "Reaganesque." Even the Left was impressed. "Condi's speech was presidential," gushed MSNBC firebrand Chris Matthews via Twitter. "Best address of the convention." Rice has said repeatedly that she plans to continue teaching at Stanford University rather than run for office, but that hasn't dampened a wave of renewed speculation that she could be a top contender for the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016 if Mitt Romney loses this year — or in 2020 if Romney wins. Will Rice run for president someday, or will she put her GOP star power to use in some other role? Here, six predictions for Rice's future jobs:
1. President Condoleezza Rice
Rice's professorial yet moving address was "at times wonky, at times red meat for the base, and at times personal reflection," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. The next time the GOP is looking for a presidential candidate, "rest assured: Condoleezza Rice will be a part of that conversation." Heck, Rice even alluded to a White House run, saying that growing up in Jim Crow Birmingham, her parents made her believe "that even though she can't have a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter, she can be president of the United States." Convention speeches get "meticulously combed" for content — you don't throw in a line like that "on a whim." Rice, and GOP leaders, clearly like having "her name bandied about in the context of future presidential elections.
2. Vice President Condoleezza Rice
It looks like Mitt chose the wrong running mate, says Keli Goff at The Root. When Rice stared directly into the camera and said, "Peace comes from strength," she provided a "powerful reminder" that she's not afraid of war — or anything. She "would have been a natural fit for the vice presidential ticket, since that person is largely there to get in the trenches and do the political fighting." If the Romney-Ryan ticket goes down in flames, Paul Ryan will be "the answer to a trivia question by Christmas." But Rice might be back at the next convention giving the speech Ryan gave Wednesday night, "the speech where she introduces herself as that year's vice presidential nominee."
3. Sen. Condoleezza Rice
This isn't the first "mini-boomlet for Rice," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. There were plenty of people cheering for her when Romney was still weighing his choices for a running mate. "At that time, it was gently pointed out that Ms. Rice, a remarkably intelligent and capable woman, had no experience in electoral politics." That's still the case. She has said she has no interest in running for office, but after that speech you have to wonder if she has changed her mind. She "absolutely wowed the crowd." If she decides to take the plunge, her home state of California would be lucky to have her. "Senator Rice? This is America. Anything is possible."
4. Gov. Condoleezza Rice
Everybody knows Rice is a foreign-policy whiz, GOP strategist Steve Schmidt tells Politico. And now she's showing she can tackle domestic issues, too. She "lives in America's most broken state, our biggest state — California — where the Republican Party has collapsed." So you can bet a light bulb clicked on over the heads of the members of the California delegation during her speech. Right under their noses, they've discovered "someone who can potentially restore the Republican party to office in California." Rice is about to start hearing "calls for her to run for governor."
5. Secretary (of Education?) Condoleezza Rice
Rice obviously wants a role in politics, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, but that doesn't mean she has any desire to run for office. And why would she? She supports abortion rights, she has spoken positively about letting gay couples form civil unions, and she opposes the GOP's harsh immigration policies. Those can all be deal-breakers with Republican voters, and the more she talks publicly, the more problems she'll run into with the base. Still, Rice "clearly made some fans inside the GOP" this week, and they'd be happy to put her out front on "issues like education," a passion of hers. Rice says she dislikes politics but loves policy, says Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post, so maybe there's a cabinet position in her future.
6. Professor Condoleezza Rice
Rice's "rapturous" admirers have "conveniently forgotten" a few things, says Anne Penketh at The Hill. Rice was "an architect of the Iraq war that saddled a generation with debt" ... remember? There's no way "a woman who has never run for elected office can escape the toxic legacy of the Bush administration in which she played a crucial role." So put away your "Condi for President" bumper stickers, Republicans. Rice is better suited for "the halls of academe" these days than for the bruising world of politics.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 10 things you need to know today: November 26, 2014
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
Subscribe to the Week