Condi Rice’s Long Game

I’ll admit to being a bit surprised to discover that Condoleezza Rice, in addition to appearing on Face the Nation yesterday, has also become a CBS Contributor.  Or, as wizened host Bob Schieffer said, And joining us now, well, everybody knows Condoleezza Rice was President Bush’s Secretary of State, but I am very pleased to announce she has a new job. As of today, she is joining CBS News as a contributor.“  Call me crazy, but the first thing I thought of on hearing that was that she’s planning to run for President in 2016.

After leaving The Bush White House, Condi gave little indication that she was interested in politics again, even though the subject has come up in various interviews.  She showed zero interest in being John McCain’s running mate, a job that might have been hers for the asking.  Instead she seemed satisfied in her job as professor at Stanford.  But successful, ambitious people don’t stay content forever.  Something happened to make her interested in the public sphere again.

Last June at a Romney fundraising retreat, Rice gave a speech that was extremely well received, garnering her a standing ovation and lots of cash for the Romney campaign.  In fact it was to all accounts such a good speech that it put Rice on the Romney VP list.

So this is just my speculation, but I would think for Condi, becoming a CBS Contributor gets her back in the public eye, gives her a platform to criticize the Obama administration, and gives her a chance to gauge whether there would be an interest in Condi 2016 or not.  Given how shattered the Republican Party is right now, it’s up for grabs for someone who wants to try to pick up the pieces and try to form a winning coalition.  Right now, that field is wide open.

On the eve of President Obama’s public inauguration, It would certainly be hitting the ground early.  She may think having a woman on the GOP ticket will take some of the air out of the Hillary Clinton tire.  Given that they were both Secretaries of State, it would be an interesting race.   Or my speculation could be totally incorrect.  But I’ll be watching her and see what she does.