Where’s Condi?

WHERE’S CONDI?…. On “Meet the Press” yesterday, John McCain touched on Colin Powell’s support for Barack Obama, expressing his “disappointment.” He added, however, that he has the support of five former Republican Secretaries of State, though he struggled a bit in naming them.

As Ali Frick noted, there was one noticeable absence from McCain’s list.

So why isn’t Condoleezza Rice, the current Secretary of State, on that list? Rice has said she’s “not going to get involved in this political campaign.” But perhaps her hesitation has something to do with Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). When asked in September whether Palin had enough experience for the job of vice president, Rice deliberately avoided the question, saying only, “These are decisions that Senator McCain has made. I have great confidence in him.”

It is rather curious. Consider Rice’s interest in the last presidential campaign, when she took a very active role. In an item that is no longer online, U.S. News reported on the scene at the White House on Election Day 2004.

It was about 2 p.m. Election Day, and White House political chief Karl Rove was steaming mad. Crummy media exit polls were all over the Internet, claiming a Kerry blowout and possibly depressing the GOP vote, as well as Bushies around the nation. “Karl was furious,” we’re told. So he went to work in a White House dining room, laying out electoral spreadsheets, scrolling through GOP exit polls, and watching TV. “Karl knows every single precinct,” says a friend. “We were never behind.”

But how would he get the word out? Enter Chief of Staff Andy Card and national security adviser Condi Rice. “She was into it,” said the friend. Card shouted out vote counts from the computer, Rice scribbled them down, and Rove compared them with old statistics.

In fact, Rice arguably did more campaign work than any NSA ever. Four years ago, on the day of a massive military operation against Zarqawi, Rice gave a campaign speech. The day Poland announced it would withdraw troops from Iraq, Rice gave another campaign speech. While Europeans negotiated with Iran to end its nuclear program, Rice gave another campaign speech.

And now she’s reluctant to even endorse McCain? Hmm.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.