Condoleezza Rice: The GOP’s Latest Voice on Economic Inequality

The National Republican Congressional Committee has tapped the former secretary of State as the keynote speaker for its annual fundraising event in March.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks to the crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 29, 2012 during the Republican National Convention.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Jan. 14, 2014, 7:40 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans are still hedging on spe­cif­ic eco­nom­ic-in­equal­ity policy for the com­ing year, with little agree­ment with­in the party so far. In­stead, they’re fo­cus­ing on poster boys for their plan, and their latest is a wo­man.

The Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee an­nounced Tues­day that former Sec­ret­ary of State Con­doleezza Rice will be the key­note speak­er at the group’s an­nu­al fun­drais­ing din­ner in March.

“Con­doleezza Rice’s life em­bod­ies the Amer­ic­an dream,” said NR­CC Chair­man Greg Walden in a state­ment on the com­mit­tee’s web­site. “From grow­ing up in the Jim Crow-era south to trav­el­ing the world as the na­tion’s top dip­lo­mat, she is liv­ing proof that our coun­try is the land of op­por­tun­ity.”

Rice grew up in Birm­ing­ham, Ala., where she says ex­amples of ra­cial and edu­ca­tion­al in­equal­ity were reg­u­lar and fre­quent. Her par­ents taught her not to be a vic­tim, even in un­fair cir­cum­stances. “That was a sin,” she told NPR in 2010, “to con­sider your­self vic­tim­ized, or not able to con­trol your des­tiny, or your fate — that was the one car­din­al sin in our com­munity.”

The GOP’s pre­scrip­tion for tack­ling eco­nom­ic in­equal­ity, while still in the works, heav­ily em­phas­izes so­cial mo­bil­ity — the ease with which Amer­ic­ans can rise up­ward from the middle class. Fed­er­al en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams, as well as the cul­tur­al de­mise of the nuc­le­ar fam­ily, hinder people’s abil­ity to climb the ranks, it says.

Walden’s de­scrip­tion of Rice’s rise to the top in­dic­ates that the former sec­ret­ary em­bod­ies some of the ba­sic Re­pub­lic­an ideas ahead of this year’s midterm elec­tions. And Rice may serve as a bet­ter ex­ample than some of her fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans.

Sens. Marco Ru­bio and Rand Paul and Reps. Paul Ry­an and Eric Can­tor have all been mak­ing the rounds this month, talk­ing eco­nom­ic in­equal­ity with policy or­gan­iz­a­tions and journ­al­ists alike. But the face of in­come in­equal­ity has be­come in­creas­ingly fe­male, and put­ting men on the front lines of the con­ver­sa­tion may not be a re­cipe for at­tract­ing wo­men voters to the party’s cause, let alone to the bal­lot dur­ing midterm elec­tions. Rice provides a voice in the de­bate that bet­ter re­sembles Amer­ica’s poorest con­stitu­ents, one that, by vir­tue of be­ing fe­male, is less likely to come off as com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vat­ive.

Rice can help bol­ster the GOP agenda this year. But she can also fur­ther her own. This new gig could al­low her to hint at some policy sug­ges­tions in an­ti­cip­a­tion of her own pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, much like oth­er con­tenders, in­clud­ing Ry­an and Ru­bio, have done so far. Al­though Rice has said she is not in­ter­ested in run­ning for of­fice, spec­u­la­tion re­mains. New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie spent 2010, the year he head­lined the same NR­CC din­ner, ag­gress­ively squash­ing ru­mors that he was con­sid­er­ing run­ning for pres­id­ent. Four years later, those ru­mors per­sist.

What We're Following See More »
Johnson on Ballot Everywhere, Followed by Stein, McMullin
1 hours ago
Is McMullin Building the GOP in Exile?
2 hours ago

Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
3 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Too Many Potential Enrollees Paying Obamacare Penalties Instead
4 hours ago

One of the main reasons for the recent Obamacare premium hikes is that many potential enrollees have simply decided to pay the tax penalty for remaining uninsured, rather than pay for insurance. More than 8 million people paid the penalty in 2014, and preliminary numbers for 2015 suggest that the number approaches 6 million. "For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles."

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
5 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.