Who’s the woman? It could be Kelly Ayotte or New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. But as much as I like both of them, I suspect Mitt Romney will see them as risky picks, lacking sufficient high-level government experience to unequivocally answer the question of whether they’d be qualified to take over. No, the woman Ann Romney likely has in mind is Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state.
Thanks to Kristol’s track record, we can now safely conclude that Condi Rice is definitely not the woman under consideration. Then again, there was never any reason to suspect that she would be considered. She has adamantly rejected the idea every time someone has asked her about it, and she has confirmed that she has zero interest in politicking. That’s just as well. Rice would be a uniquely poor VP choice. As I’ve pointed out before, adding her to the ticket would burden the ticket with all of the baggage of the Bush administration with no discernible political benefits of any kind. The Obama campaign wouldn’t have to work very hard to portray Romney as the second coming of George W. Bush. A Romney-Rice ticket would ensure that Romney’s desire to return to the Bush era was completely obvious and undeniable.
Rice did a lousy job as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, and she has the unusual distinction of being distrusted and disliked by many neoconservatives, most realists, and all non-interventionists in almost equal measure. She is closely associated with an administration that was widely regarded as incompetent in the conduct of foreign policy, and she helped to craft one of the least successful foreign policy records of any postwar administration. Those are her qualifications in the area in which she is considered an expert. On everything else, her policy views are either out of step with the majority of her party or unknown, and she has never run for office at any level. Romney certainly needs someone to make up for his lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge, but Rice would be one of the worst conceivable people to have in that role.
Naturally, Kristol believes that she would be a “reassuring” and “exciting” pick. I suppose her selection would generate a certain amount of excitement, if you want to call an angry backlash from social conservative activists “exciting.” Who would be reassured by Rice as VP? Kristol says that it would be reassuring because she “served at the highest levels of the federal government for eight years.” Yes, she did, and those years were some of the worst years of U.S. foreign policy in the postwar era. Most Americans wouldn’t want her to serve at that level of government again, and a Romney campaign that didn’t understand that wouldn’t be in any danger of winning the election.