BOSTON — Speculation surrounding who Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate is heating up, and Condoleezza Rice is emerging as a possible pick.
Rice released a statement over the weekend saying nothing has changed since last month, when she said she is not interested in the position.
Who might become some of Romney’s advisers, and might Rice have to change her mind?
Richard Taylor, a professor of business law at Suffolk University and transportation secretary during the Weld administration, was at a recent retreat in Utah with Romney, his donors and other Republicans along with Rice. He joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to discuss VP picks.
Deborah Becker: I understand that you were at the retreat in Utah, and Rice was there. What did she say, and how was she received? What was the vibe like?
Richard Taylor: Secretary Rice was among a number of speakers addressing donors and policymakers, and spoke very forcefully about the opportunity in this election for Republicans to regain the White House, and it was very well-received.
Did it seem then that she could possibly be vice presidential candidate material?
If one looks at the campaign at this moment, Gov. Romney only has a few more opportunities to make a game-changing decision. The first is vice president. Secretary Rice certainly provides some comfort level with respect to diversity. If you look at her background of having been former secretary of state and national security adviser, she brings a broad reach of foreign policy and international experience to any ticket. She brings a very powerful case, and others are looking at her.
Secondly is the attorney general’s position. People are concerned about civil rights [and] voting rights. And if you look at former Gov. Bill Weld [as a candidate for attorney general] — if Gov. Romney appoints Condoleeza Rice as vice president and a Bill Weld for attorney general, I think many in the middle would be very comfortable.
But she also brings some baggage. She was a supporter of the Iraq War. She’s also called herself, I believe, mildly pro-choice on abortion. I mean, those are things that have to be weighed in any kind of decision in a vice presidential running mate.
If we believe that moderates, independents, women, African-Americans and Latinos are going to probably determine this election, she makes a powerful case for addressing many of the concerns [that those voters have about what goes on] inside the decision room — inside a White House.
Now there are many folks who say that this report — that Condoleeza Rice may be chosen by Romney — came out in the Drudge Report and the Drudge Report folks are very close to the Romney campaign. And it was sort of a trial balloon that was floated after Romney was really booed during the NAACP convention last week. And it’s sort of thinking, how might this go over with conservatives? Is that what’s happening here? And what kind of reaction have we heard since this idea was floated with some substance at least as of last Friday?
The far-right is going to vote for Gov. Romney. So this is a matter of managing the middle of the electorate. Condi Rice is viewed as covering almost a triple-play, if you look at baseball terminology.
So I don’t think the campaign is concerned about the right if you are a Republican, and you’re not concerned about the left if you’re [a] Democrat. You’re trying to weed the middle, and Secretary Rice offers a powerful case for weeding that middle.
However, she has said no, she’s not doing it. She wants policy, [and she] likes policy over politics. And again over the weekend, a statement was released that says, “No, I am not going to be a vice presidential candidate.” So, while we may be talking about the idea of this, what about the reality — or the possible reality – of it happening?
[When] one is called to serve as president, vice president, Supreme Court [justice] [or chairman of the] Federal Reserve, it’s very difficult to say no to your country.
Now, you said that Romney has a few opportunities left to make a game-changing move. Does the game need to change for Mitt Romney, is that what you’re saying?
President Obama’s team is running a very spirited campaign; every week, there is a strong volley. It seems that the Romney campaign is playing defense every week, and President Obama’s team is playing offense every week. So to many observers, this kind of volley favors the incumbent. And so if one is to regain the offense and press forward, those kind of appointments around — vice president and attorney general — probably better than advanced would offer a strong opportunity to change the game.