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July 14, 2012
Condi Rice for Veep. Really?
If Drudge is right, Mitt Romney may just pick Condi Rice as his running mate. Talk about an insider's pick.
Former Secretary of State Rice is a smart woman and accomplished in her field, but does she energize conservative voters? Does her presence on the Romney ticket do anything to persuade Hispanics to back Mitt? Can Rice help Romney bleed off enough black votes to damage the president's re-election chances?
The answer to these questions are definitively "no."
And strictly in terms of election politics, wouldn't Rice be a reminder of the Bush presidency? Unfair as it may be, many voters still blame the former president for the economy's crash. Won't President Obama and left-wing super pacs have a field day with Romney picking Rice, who played so prominent and conspicuous a role in the Bush White House?
The answer points to "yes."
Could Romney be thinking that selecting Rice would favorably impact women and independents? On first take, this seems to be what would be uppermost in Romney's mind.
Clearly, Condi Rice, a conventional Republican and establishmentarian, would do little to excite grassroots conservatives. But Romney must calculate that conservatives are so strongly motivated to vote against Mr. Obama that he'll get their votes anyway.
What Rice does to help Romney get Hispanics isn't understood. With the Hispanic vote on the rise, and a healthy percentage of Hispanics gettable, why on earth pick Rice? Why not make the obvious choice of Marco Rubio? Or New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez?
Blacks will vote overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama. Moreover, blacks across the nation - forever disproportionately Democratic in their party preference - well understand that the president is beleaguered and already are in the process of circling the wagons around him.
Furthermore, there's this persistent notion among establishment Republicans (Romney counted among them) that elevating blacks to cabinet-level positions (or with Rice, to the vice presidency) will persuade rank and file black voters that Republicans desire to be inclusive (or at least persuade the liberal media to lay off).
President George W. Bush's appointment of blacks to conspicuous positions in his administration didn't so much as dent blacks' long identification with the Democratic Party.
There are many reasons why Republicans playing the black card doesn't resonate with most blacks. Some reasons are historic, others political, and still others are cultural. Changes in black voting patterns won't occur with Condi Rice's pick in 2012. Breaking the Democrats' decades-old lock on black voters starts at the grassroots in black communities across the nation. That's a long haul effort.
Republican U.S. Representatives Allen West and Tim Scott, though not elected from strictly black districts, offer more hope for long term change among black voters than Romney selecting Condi Rice, whose ties to George W. Bush and emersion in the Republican establishment makes her an easy target for lambasting by Democrats and their black allies.
As for wooing women and independents to vote for Romney with Rice as veep, it seems that a floundering economy will help Romney more with these cohorts than Rice can. Pocketbook and family budget issues shouldn't be underestimated as drivers in voters' decisions this autumn.
If Romney thinks he "needs" a woman on the ticket, look at the aforementioned Governor Susana Martinez, who's a proven vote-getter in heavily Hispanic New Mexico (a state Romney surely would like to win).
Perhaps Romney wants to play against stereotype by picking an accomplished black woman as his running mate. Herein is referenced Mr. Romney's Mormonism. Mormonism - very unfairly - is viewed as excluding and, in some ways, remote from the American mainstream. Perhaps going with Rice is Romney's way of demonstrating inclusiveness.
Perhaps Romney is just floating a trial balloon with Rice, or his campaign is offering her up as a diversionary move. Campaigns do these sort of things.
Mitt Romney picking Condi Rice would reinforce one thing, though: that Romney's an insider playing an insider's game.
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