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July 13, 2012

Condi as VP – good for Israel?‎

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/condi_as_vp_good_for_israel_20120713/

Photo

Then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, January 2008. (Photo: Reuters)

Not too long ago, we asked our Israel Factor panel of experts to rank the ‎possible candidates for Vice President on the very vague and general ‎question of “good for Israel”. The current VP, Joe Biden, appeared to be ‎quite popular with our panel – and he will most probably be the ‎Democratic candidate for VP. As for the Republican field, our panel was ‎more hesitant, with Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, both considered long ‎shots, as the highest ranking (Biden got an 8 out of 10, Christie and ‎Bush were at 6.78). ‎

It now seems that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is one of the ‎leading candidates for Mitt Romney’s running mate – as reported by the Drudge Report. ‎Rice was not on our latest list of candidates, but her candidacy – if she ‎becomes the nominee - will surely draw the attention of Israelis. Rice ‎had good relations with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but less ‎good relations with his successor, Ehud Olmert (how strange would it ‎be to have both her and Olmert making a comeback at about the same ‎time – that’s so 2006). ‎

Anyway, in the past we did ask the Factor panel a couple of questions ‎about Rice, and the verdict was not very favorable. In 2008, when we ‎asked the panel to identify the better candidates to be “special peace ‎envoy” for the Obama administration, Rice was at the bottom of the list:‎

And even lower regard was saved for the person now running the ‎peace process - Condoleezza Rice. The view of this panel is quite ‎clear: Those who want a more vigorous process think that she’s ‎just not up for the job, those who think it’s a waste of time will ‎generally consider here to be too much into it. Thus, Rice gets low ‎marks from almost all panelists. ‎

In 2006 and in 2007, when Rice was included in our survey of ‎potential Presidential candidates, her ratings were also not very high, ‎and for similar reasons:‎

Various panelists gave different answers about what’s bothering ‎them, so there is no alternative but to assume that Rice is just a ‎miserable victim of circumstances. The panelists who are worried ‎by the possibility of American pressure on the Palestinian issue ‎lowered her grade because they believe that some of her ‎statements show she is over-committed to the establishment of a ‎Palestinian state. Others, who really have no diplomatic problem ‎with Rice or with a certain amount of American pressure, lowered ‎her grade because their estimation of President Bush is very low ‎and her loyalty to his policy causes them to doubt her intelligence.‎

In short, Rice was never a Factor favorite, but this was long time ago, ‎when she was part of the Bush team. I’d assume she’d do much better ‎today with the panel. As we’ve seen in the past, the panel feels more ‎comfortable with the candidates it is familiar with – unless they have an ‎unquestionably problematic record on Israel. Moreover, Rice is the one ‎candidate Romney could bring in who’d hit the ground running ‎when it comes to Middle East affairs. If one wants stability amid the ‎chaos, Rice is a possible answer. ‎

One caveat that should be taken into account: I don’t think official Israel ‎is going to be happy about a Romney-Rice ticket unless it is reassured ‎that Rice will not be the deciding force on Israel matters. In other ‎words: adding Rice to the ticket will make the Romney ticket less ‎appealing to the current Israeli government (but still more appealing ‎than Barack Obama). And that’s probably another reason that it will ‎make the ticket more appealing to some of our Factor panelists.‎

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