With the Republican Convention set to begin on August 27, we are heading toward the final phase of the GOP Veepstakes. Currently, the mainstream media mania is focused on the belief that Romney will play the Rice Card. It won’t happen. The excitement concerns the possibility that playing the Rice Card will enhance support from African-American and female voters. Unfortunately, Condoleezza Rice lacks the degree of charisma one would expect in a Vice-Presidential candidate. Worse yet, the baggage she brings from her testimony before the 9/11 Commission, particularly in response to the questions posed by Richard Ben-Veniste concerning the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing is the most important reason she will not be picked. Her failure to seriously heed the warning, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” would become a big issue – once again. Her response to Ben-Veniste’s interrogation was asinine:
Commissioner, this was not a warning. This was a historic memo — historical memo prepared by the agency because the president was asking questions about what we knew about the inside.
We often hear pundits recite the Cardinal Rule for Presidential candidates, in selecting their Vice-Presidential nominee, as: “Do No Harm”. In other words: Don’t screw up your campaign by choosing a controversial running mate. If Romney were to play the Rice card, he would append to his own campaign the Bush administration’s failure to heed the warnings about the September 11 attacks. It won’t happen.
Consider: A public figure of obvious and nameable accomplishment whose attainments can’t be taken away from her. Washington experience – she wouldn’t be learning on the job. Never ran for office but no political novice. An academic, but not ethereal or abstract. A woman in a year when Republicans aren’t supposed to choose a woman because of what is now called the 2008 experience – so the choice would have a certain boldness. A black woman in a campaign that always threatens to take on a painful racial overlay. A foreign-policy professional acquainted with everyone who’s reigned or been rising the past 20 years.
What is really happening here is that potential candidates from minority groups are being paraded before the public, purely for optics. Last month, it was Marco Rubio and now it’s Condoleezza Rice. It has been important for the Romney camp to convince the voters that it seriously considered putting a minority group member on the ticket before finally deciding on a white man.
At this point, the smart money is on Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Portman is from a battleground state and Romney can be confident that Portman won’t make any stupid moves or inappropriate remarks which could damage the campaign. Romney needs to play it safe and Portman is a safe choice.
Actually, the Rice Card is being played right now. You won’t see it again after August.