Monday, April 07, 2008

State Dept Reporters: Rice Running For Veep?

The subject? Condi and the Veep slot in November for the GOP. The place? The daily press briefing on Monday at the State Department in Washington. The fix for political addicts? Questions posed about Rice speaking to Norquist's salon, editorial writers for the Washington Times, a flattering profile in Fitness Magazine. State Department correspondents see a pattern of engagement on Rice's part not necessarily visible to the average news consumer.

Transcript excerpted from the April 7 press briefing:

QUESTION: For all the political junkies, we talked about this this morning. But Secretary Rice and the vice presidency: You said she’s not interested; no, she’s going back to California.


QUESTION: So what are we to make if we were analyzing this? What are we to make of -- in the past week, we’ve seen a meeting with Grover Norquist’s group.


QUESTION: We’ve seen expansive comments on race and education in America to The Washington Times editorial board.


QUESTION: And we’ve seen an up-close and personal spread in Fitness Magazine.


QUESTION: Secretary Rice lifting weights and looking very human --


QUESTION: -- or super-human. (Laughter.) So --


QUESTION: I just – I’m just wondering, you know, this --

MR. MCCORMACK: With a C on her chest? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: This – I think this has led some to believe that she is actively kind of campaigning for the vice presidency. So why shouldn’t we look at this as unusual from a Secretary of State?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I think if you look back at her tenure in terms of her activities, you will find all of these activities perfectly normal and consistent with the way she has done her job over the past three years or so. So like I said this morning, if – if she is actively seeking the vice presidency, then she is the last one to know about it. She plans on going back west of the Mississippi to Stanford once she’s completed her work as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Why not a Shermanesque denial?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think – you know, I think in her view, and certainly in my view, she’s given that many times over whenever she’s been asked this question. She was asked it most recently by Mr. Kralev’s institution, The Washington Times, and I think she gave a pretty definitive answer. She said, you know, not – not interested, time for new blood. She’s looking forward to going back to Stanford when she’s completed her work as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: All I’m saying is the simplest way to stamp out these reports would be to issue an airtight --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, next – tell you what --

QUESTION: -- definitive --

MR. MCCORMACK: Tell you what, next time – next time – next time you have a chance to ask her a question, you ask her that question, I’m sure she’ll give you a no. I’ll tell you no right now, but you can get it from her when you see her next.


QUESTION: Do you think she’d consider running for California Governor?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I think what she is considering is focusing on her work as Secretary of State because -- you may have missed it -- but there’s actually quite a bit to do. There is quite a bit left to do here as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, there are a few things left on the burners right now, so she’s focused on that. And she’s – once her job as – her work as Secretary of State is done, then she looks forward to going back out to California to resume her activities at Stanford. Keep in mind, she is actually on leave from Stanford. She is still a tenured professor at Stanford University.

If you're interested in the transcript of Rice's meeting with the Washington Times editorial board, click here. She repeatedly states she's not going to talk politics, and then proceeds to do exactly that.

A sneak-peek of her comments:

SECRETARY RICE: Well, you know, it's -- America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race. I sit in my office and the portrait immediately over my shoulder is Thomas Jefferson, because he was my first predecessor. He was the first Secretary of State. And sometimes I think to myself, what would he think -- (laughter) -- a black woman Secretary of State as his predecessor 65 times removed -- successor, 65 times removed? What would he think that the last two successors have been black Americans? And so, obviously, when this country was founded, the words that were enshrined in all of our great documents and that have been such an inspiration to people around the world, for the likes of Vaclav Havel, associate themselves with those documents. They didn't have meaning for an overwhelming element of our founding population. And black Americans were a founding population. Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together; Europeans by choice, and Africans in chains.

Click here to read about Rice's "No Excuses" workouts in Fitness Magazine.

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