Rice to be McCain's Vice President? Not so fast
John Byrne
Published: Monday April 7, 2008

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McCain won't say if Rice is on short list

Could Condoleezza Rice be John McCain's running mate?

A day after a top former Bush spokesman in Iraq remarked that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is actively campaigning for McCain's vice presidential ticket, Sen. John McCain remained mum after receiving a question about her possible candidacy on his campaign jet.

"I think she's a great American. I think there's very little that I can say that isn't anything but the utmost praise for a great American citizen that served as role model to so many people in this country and around the world," McCain replied. "But as I mentioned to you we're not talking about the process because that just, that gets into things that could easily spill over into invasion of privacy. I'm a great admirer of Secretary Rice."

A hidden liability

Rice, while feted by the mainstream press, could actually be a liability for McCain. The media has been loath to ask questions about a revelation by a Washington Post reporter who revealed that real estate documents show she co-owned a home and shared a credit line with a woman at Stanford. Kessler revealed this in his biography of Rice, The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy.

Rice co-owned a home and shared a line of credit with Randy Bean, a documentary filmmaker who once worked with Bill Moyers. She later transfered the co-ownership of her property to Bean, who told Kessler she had medical bills which left her financially drained and Rice helped her by co-purchasing the house along with a third person, Coit Blacker, another Stanford professor who is openly gay.

When asked about the revelations by Sirius Radio's gay talk show host Michael Signorile last September, Kessler "said he did not know if this meant there was something more to the relationship between the woman beyond a friendship."

Rice took heat from gay activists and the gay lobby Human Rights Campaign after she refused to condemn Iran for the hanging of two gay teenagers in 2005.

The articulate Rice has other, more public vulnerabilities, such as her claim that the smoking gun in Iraq could be a "mushroom cloud."

Still, Rice draws favor as a wise potential VP pick from liberal publications such as The Nation.

"With Rice on the ticket, the GOP would have somebody to get enthusiastic about," the Nation's Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote in February. "The Secretary of State is immensely popular with Republicans. For a party that up to now has been clueless about how to run against either a woman or a person of color, Condoleezza Rice is pure political gold.

"Rice's presence on the ticket deprives the Democrats of the we-are-more-diverse-than-thou argument," Von Hoffman added. "It makes McCain--whose ethnically diverse family includes an adopted daughter from Bangladesh--an even more attractive candidate for a certain kind of independent voter."

Liberal foreign policy maven Steve Clemons, who blogs at The Washington Note and travels in high-level foreign policy circles told me last November that "Condoleeza Rice may or may not be gay but she is in a relationship which legitimately raises these kinds of questions. Before he took office, the president and first lady had close relationships with a number of gay men, including Charles Francis, whose brother managed Bush's reelection campaign for Texas governor."

The Secretary has remained silent on whether gays should be allowed to serve in the military and has not commented on the permanent partners immigration act.

Andy Humm, a New York gay journalist, told me Rice's silence on gay issues gives "consent."

"Condi Rice works for an administration that uses attacks on gay rights to win votes," Humm said. "She has stood by silently while the President has proposed writing anti-gay discrimination into the Constitution of the United States. Whenever she is given the opportunity to distance herself from their anti-gay polices she punts."

"Silence," he added, "gives consent."

Rice's sexuality is off limits in the mainstream press -- to date, the press has not dealt publicly with the sexuality of California Rep. David Dreier, who lived with his male chief of staff, or Bush reelection chief Ken Mehlman. But in a no-holds-barred presidential campaign (the last time around, McCain was accused of having an African American baby), and an Internet-centric news cycle, nobody can tell.