I spent part of the morning at the State Department where the foreign minister, Maxine Bernier, as meeting with the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice and their Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa.
First off, let me just say that the Rice & Bernier show was nothing like the Rice & MacKay show. No smiles and giggles, no meaningful glances, no references to fresh Atlantic breezes wafting through bedroom windows…. In fact, they rarely looked at each other at all. Very cut and dried.
The big anticipation among the press here was how would Rice react to the all the speculation that she is jockeying to be John McCain vice-presidential running mate. So the question was put to her — and her denial consisted of gushing about what a great American McCain is — and by touting her foreign policy credentials. Then she said she looked forward to going back to Stanford. Big grin.
It’s an interesting notion — that McCain could try to counter the first black or first female presidential candidate with a runninng mate who is both black and female. That is surely a plus. But the minus seems much bigger. The Democrats are trying to label him as a third Bush term, while he is making the case that he would have run the Iraq war better. So it’s hard to see why he would bring in a key Bush cabinet member on the ticket. Of course, stranger things have happened.
Question: “I wonder why you haven’t made sort of a Shermanesque denial about this speculation that you might want to run for vice president. Can you just lay that to rest for all of us?”
Rice: “…Let me just say, first of all, that Senator McCain is an extraordinary American, a really outstanding leader, and obviously a great patriot. That said, I’m going back to Stanford or back to California, west of the Mississippi. I very much look forward to watching this campaign and voting as a voter. I have a lot of work to do. Just this morning you’ve just asked me a question about trying to complete the denuclearization of North Korea. I was on the phone with Abu Mazen this morning about his meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Olmert. I was on the phone this morning with the new Pakistani foreign minister, with Ban Ki-moon about issues concerning Darfur and issues concerning Kosovo. This is obviously a very busy agenda. And here I sit with my Mexican and Canadian counterparts on hemispheric issues. So I have a lot of work to do, and then I’ll happily go back to Stanford.”