Condoleeza Rice for vice president? Maybe, just maybe . . . But then, NO. What started as a news item on the Mitt Romney-friendly website The Drudge Report went quickly mainstream. Would Condi make the move? But two days later the general consensus was, “Let’s call the whole thing off.” Case closed.
Rice was always a long shot. If Romney’s PR problem is that he is considered too remote to galvanize the grassroots, then adding Condi Rice would have made a tough campaign even tougher. Besides, given that Romney has tried to steer clear of the Bush legacy, having a stalwart of the Bush years as the Number Two on the ticket would be walking into a host of problems.
Cynics have suggested that Rice was put in the headlines to take news editors minds’ off Romney’s tax filings and his leadership of Bain capital. As a PR strategy, this has merits. But no campaign can have brides publicly rejecting the ring. This had to be limited to a quick diversion. As for Condi, the PR dilemma was this: How do you decline a proposal without offending?
The PR Verdict: “A” for Condoleeza Rice turning down an unofficial vice presidential proposal politely. No one likes rejection, but this issue needed to be cut short before it gathered too much steam.
The PR Takeaway: Dating rules apply in PR. Condi took a leaf out of the old breakup book: It’s not you, it’s me. Publicly turning down the Republican Presidential candidate could seriously impair his campaign and make the next person who accepts look like an also-ran. Without commenting directly, her flaks reiterated her previous comments that she prefers policy over politics. Campaigning for public office is not for her, they said, while Condi herself was nowhere to be seen. With such an elegant TBNT (Thanks, But No Thanks), Romney felt no rejection, and the door remains wide open to a potential candidate. Would that more politicians could handle things so nicely . . .
Did Condoleeza Rice handle rejecting Romney well? Was the rumor of her being asked to consider the VP slot a PR diversion away from his tax issue? Tell us your PR Verdict!