That being said, I do think Daniels will get in, which will reduce Romney’s odds considerably [bold mine-DL]. But at this point, the Indiana governor has every reason to wait another six months or so to declare his candidacy — because at the rate we’re going, all of his prospective rivals will have either bowed out or self-destructed by then.
While no one was watching, Daniels just engaged in a bit more self-destruction of his own. Thanks to one of my commenters, I came across this report that Daniels had floated Condi Rice’s name as a hypothetical VP nominee. Rice is not pro-life, and that is just one of the problems with Daniels’ hypothetical suggestion.
If Daniels weren’t already under fire for his “truce” proposal, this wouldn’t amount to much, but it reinforces all of the doubts that social conservatives have about Daniels despite his obvious credentials as a social conservative. For some hawks, mentioning Rice is another strike against Daniels, because they perceive Rice as one of the people in the second Bush term responsible for charting a somewhat less disastrous foreign policy course. For others, it is proof that Daniels is willing to revive the foreign policy errors of the Bush years, which doesn’t hurt Daniels in the primaries, but it should cause everyone else to flee a Daniels candidacy as quickly as possible.
Frankly, floating Condi Rice’s name as a VP choice suggests poor political judgment and ignorance of how poorly Rice performed in her Bush administration posts. When no one knew what then-Gov. George W. Bush thought about foreign policy, we were reassured that Condi Rice, a Brent Scowcroft protege, was advising him. Bush the candidate gave the impression that he was inclined towards something more like a Republican realist foreign policy, and almost immediately once he was in office all of that went out the window. No one interested in such a foreign policy is likely to fall for that trick again, especially not when the same personnel are going to be involved.
As National Security Advisor, Rice did a terrible job. As Secretary of State, she didn’t do much better. Hers was the disastrous tenure at State that facilitated the election of Hamas in Gaza, the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, the push for missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the dangerous, foolish push to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia. The last three of these contributed significantly to the escalation of tensions that led to the August 2008 war in Georgia. These were the results of administration decisions in which Rice was very much involved, and they were all clearly mistakes at the time. Under Bush’s direction, she helped drive the U.S.-Russian relationship to its lowest point in the last twenty years. She memorably commented on the 2006 bombardment of Lebanon as the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” If Daniels hopes that he is reassuring realists by mentioning Rice, he is mistaken. If he expects interventionists to be satisfied with the watered-down version of their foreign policy that Rice represents, he will be disappointed.
If Daniels has been doing this badly before he has announced a presidential bid, what does Romney really have to fear from him?