Stop Trying to Make Condi Rice Happen

The ex-secretary of state isn't a good choice for Mitt Romney's VP. Let's stop pretending that she would be.

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Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

(The Root) -- After getting hammered by the media over the last week for his failure to release multiple years of his tax returns, Mitt Romney needs to change the subject -- badly -- so by the time you read this, he may have already announced his vice presidential running mate. I don't know who it will be, but I can tell you one thing: It won't be Condoleezza Rice.

Rice herself has said, "There is no way I would do this." But that hasn't stopped folks from floating her name out there as a candidate.

Notwithstanding last Thursday's headline on the Drudge Report home page and Monday's Boston Herald endorsement that described Rice as a "breath of fresh air," there's no way Romney would -- or should -- consider her as a serious contender to be his VP.

Rice is eloquent and statuesque and has instant name recognition. She's got Southern roots, West Coast ties and a Washington, D.C., résumé. She was national security adviser and secretary of state for President George W. Bush, has a Ph. D. in Cold War politics and speaks Russian as a bonus, which would have made her a great vice president -- in 1982. She's thought of as one of those rare above-the-fray political figures, but she'd be a terrible vice presidential pick for Romney.

Why? Because her signature "achievement" in public life was co-signing Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq -- one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history. If she were on the Romney ticket, the Democrats' attack ads about never-found weapons of mass destruction would just about write themselves.

Rice is also pro-choice in an anti-choice party that already doesn't trust Romney's conservative bona fides in light of his well-known flip-flop on the abortion issue.

And Rice has never run for office before -- so that admirable "above the fray" quality would go right out the window once she did. The fact that her name keeps being mentioned as a serious contender says not much about her and much more about the politics of being on the vice presidential "short list." In theory, she gets the prestige that comes from being on that list, and Romney gets credit for including an African-American woman among the finalists, even if everyone knows she won't be the ultimate choice.

In Rice's case, though, whenever she's mentioned as a possibility, it not only underscores Romney's relative lack of foreign policy chops, but it also comes off as sort of a weak-sauce attempt to showcase party diversity.

Like the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan suggesting that Rice might be the antidote to "a campaign that always threatens to take on a painful racial overlay." But while talk of Rice might help Romney with Republican-leaning voters who want to see a more moderate, inclusive GOP, her close association with the Bush years means she's no help with most African-American voters, for whom Bush remains particularly unpopular.

Republicans have legitimate Asian-American stars in South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (yes, "Asian American" includes South Asian) -- and Latino stars in New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.