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Most of my liberal friends at Harvard are excited by the idea that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., might be elected the first female president in 2008. But here's a long shot idea: How about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to hold that prestigious and powerful post, instead?
Rice dazzled Europe and the Middle East during a recent trip, and she certainly has some popular support. There's even a website called americansforrice.com, which has received more than 100,000 hits.
And, in a moment of art imitating (what could become) life, ABC is planning a series called Commander In Chief, in which the country elects its first female president.
I admit it's too early — way too early, really — to talk about presidential candidates for 2008. After all, America is just now recovering from the downright nasty '04 race, Clinton hasn't announced her candidacy, and Rice hasn't expressed even mild interest in elective politics.
But why not? Vice President Cheney has said he won't run, leaving the Republican Party field for 2008 wide open. Besides, against a political force like Clinton in 2008, the Republican Party would need a high-energy candidate who could unite the nation while demanding the respect of the world.
That's where Condi comes in. She's steeped in foreign policy, which is crucial in today's age of terrorism. And she's electable.
A Rasmussen Poll that pits Clinton vs. Rice in 2008 gives Clinton a slight edge — despite the fact that at the time, Rice had been secretary of State for only a few days. Even though she has never run a campaign, Rice has the right stuff for national office. Her struggle in segregated Birmingham, Ala., during the 1950s, for example, is an inspiring personal triumph. She also has developed a toughness that has been her hallmark — and would serve her well in the Oval Office.
Yet she has more than a steely inner core: As a pastor's daughter, she is deeply religious, which is always helpful in securing the GOP nomination. However, she doesn't walk lock step with the party and holds "mildly" pro-choice views. If she could survive the party primaries, this could be a plus in luring independents and Democrats in the general election — not to mention blacks and Hispanics, who might be more inclined to vote for a moderate Republican such as Rice, who supports affirmative action without quotas. She is the GOP's dream. I hope, during the next few years, the party awakens and coaxes Rice to run.
Of course, it's too early to talk about it.
Stefani Carter is a student at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.