Condoleezza Rice Gaining Steam As Romney VP Candidate

Condoleezza Rice has said that she doesn’t want to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, but that hasn’t stopped her from rising to the top of the Republican candidate’s unofficial list of vice president candidates.

Reports have surfaced for a couple of weeks now that Condoleezza Rice could be a VP candidate, and late last week the Drudge Report mentioned that she could be a frontrunner for the No. 2 slot. Now the former secretary of state is gaining more endorsements as the prospect of her gaining the vice presidential slot grows greater.

Condoleezza Rice would bring a lot to Romney’s campaign. She could connect with a broader range of voters, cutting into Obama’s African-American vote, and would appeal to female voters without all the baggage Sarah Palin brought to John McCain’s campaign. She also has foreign policy credentials to match Romney’s economic expertise, cutting into another Obama advantage.

Still, Rice could be a hard sell for conservatives, NPR pointed out. Her stance on abortion conflicts with Romney’s, and she still has some stigma associated with the unpopular Bush administration.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, took issue with Rice’s pro-choice stances, saying:

“Former Secretary Rice’s position on the sanctity of human life makes her an unqualified candidate for Governor Romney to choose as a running mate. Throughout the campaign, including at the Palmetto Freedom Forum last September, he has pledged to us in no uncertain terms that he would choose a pro-life running mate. We have taken Governor Romney at his word and therefore believe Secretary Rice will be ruled out of consideration.”

Ben Jacobs of The Daily Beast said that with the heat Romney has taken from conservatives for his record on social issues, he could have trouble picking Rice who has her own difficult record for conservatives to swallow. Jacobs wrote:

“Romney, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994 as a pro-choice candidate who would be ‘better than Ted [Kennedy] on gay rights,’ has had to backtrack considerably since. He has vowed to be ‘severely conservative’ and spent his presidential primary combating attacks that he was simply ‘a Massachusetts moderate.’ The result has left Romney uniquely vulnerable to criticism from the Republican base.”

Support for Condloeezza Rice is growing, though. On Monday she gained the endorsement of the Boston Herald, which said she could be just the person to help Romney attack the global financial crisis. The editorial summed up the case for Rice as this: “The choice of Rice would be bold but without being risky — really, what’s not to like?”