Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she is not interested in running for president in ’08. “I don’t have any desire to run for president, I don’t intend to, I won’t do it. I don’t know how many ways to say ‘No,'” she said on ABC’s This Week.
And just to make sure we get the point, she told CBS’s Face the Nation, “I’ve never wanted to run for anything.” I want to do what I am doing — I love being secretary of state thus far. And one of these days very soon I am going to return and be an academic again and get back to the California life and to the world of ideas.”
Despite having never run for office, Rice ranked second among women deemed best suited for the presidency in a nationwide poll conducted Feb. 10 to 17 with 42 percent, behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) with 53 percent.
She’s a defense expert and hawk; she’s “mildly” pro-choice, which would help with the broad middle; she’s a religious pastor’s daughter; she’s tough without coming across as strident. Were she interested she would be a very intriguing option, but she says “no” and I’m not the kind of guy who thinks “no” means “yes.”
Regardless of her intentions concerning future office, her State Department now looks like a real power center of Bush confidants:
- Longtime presidential adviser Karen Hughes will be named to a top post at the State Department on Monday, the White House said, and improving the U.S. image in the Arab world will be a top priority for her. An Egyptian-born White House aide will be nominated as Hughes’ second-in-command.
Hughes, who for years has had a major voice in crafting President Bush’s domestic message, is a former counselor to the president who left the White House in 2002 to move her family back to Texas.
“Karen Hughes is a valued member of the president’s team,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. “She has the full trust of the president.”
….Hughes, a former Texas television reporter, has continued to advise the president from her home in Austin. Although not a diplomat by training, Hughes had a hand in several foreign policy initiatives during Bush’s first term, including efforts to promote democracy and improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan. Hughes is also close to Rice, and was expected to appear alongside her at a State Department press conference Monday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Hughes’ title would be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, and she would have the rank of ambassador.
Her deputy would be Dina Powell, currently Bush’s personnel director. Powell is a fluent Arabic speaker who emigrated to the United States as a child.
Both women would focus on Bush’s plan to spread democracy in the Middle East, an effort that has gained momentum with recent elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Powell’s title would be deputy undersecretary for educational and cultural affairs. [AP]