Republican Vice President: Condoleezza Rice?
Now that Mitt Romney has all but sewn up the Republican presidential nomination, the GOP Veepstakes are well under way. Senators and governors, especially Tea Party favorites, like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, have dominated discussions about potential running mates; but a new survey from CNN/ORC International shows that former Secretary of State and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is the most popular pick among conservative voters.
Twenty-six percent of Republican and right-leaning independents supported Rice for the No. 2 spot on a Romney ticket. Evangelical former presidential candidate Rick Santorum came in second with twenty-once percent. Christie, Rubio, and Ryan occupied the next three spots, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell posting lower numbers. Popular choice Ohio Sen. Rob Portman earned less than one percent, with most respondents not knowing who he was.
Of course, all off these numbers could actually be counter intuitive: high recognition for Rice and Santorum could mean they are too well-known and divisive, while Portman’s relative anonymity could be a plus for a ticket looking for a nominee with little baggage. As we’ve seen, the publicity of the convention would make him well known soon enough. Support from independents (undecided voters), and not dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, might be the most important factor.
But the numbers certainly do highlight a drastic divide among conservatives. Rice and Santorum almost couldn’t be more different: one is a career diplomat and scholar, exuding dispassionate bureaucratic expertise, while the other is a candidate popular mainly for his overwhelming religious faith. Neither completely represents the libertarian, anti-government sentiment that has swept much of the party.
These numbers are also truly surprising for showing that a black woman is currently the top pick for a GOP ticket. Many VP possibilities have sought to grab a minority vote that might no longer be entirely behind Barack Obama; and the last few weeks have shown us that women will be a highly contested demographic. Although Rice lacks elected experience, she is clearly intelligent, serious, and qualified to serve at the highest levels of government- her choice as a running mate would not appear naive and gimmicky, unlike certain other choices I could name (I’m sure Condi can name a newspaper she reads). But would the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush administration and her icy reputation come back to haunt her during the race?
What do you think? Who should be Romney’s running mate?