Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice (/ˌkɒndəˈlzə/; born November 14, 1954) is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American Secretary of State, as well as the second African-American Secretary of State (after Colin Powell), and the second female Secretary of State (after Madeleine Albright). Rice was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position.

Condoleezza Rice
Rice in 2005
66th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 26, 2005  January 20, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
DeputyRichard Armitage
Robert Zoellick
John Negroponte
Preceded byColin Powell
Succeeded byHillary Clinton
20th United States National Security Advisor
In office
January 20, 2001  January 26, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
DeputyStephen Hadley
Preceded bySandy Berger
Succeeded byStephen Hadley
10th Provost of Stanford University
In office
Preceded byGerald J. Lieberman
Succeeded byJohn L. Hennessy
Personal details
Born (1954-11-14) November 14, 1954
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (1982–present)
Other political
Democratic Party (before 1982)
EducationUniversity of Denver (BA, PhD)
University of Notre Dame (MA)

Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up while the South was racially segregated. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Denver and her master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame. In 1981 she received a PhD from the School of International Studies at the University of Denver.[1][2] She worked at the State Department under the Carter administration and pursued an academic fellowship at Stanford University, where she later served as provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H. W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification from 1989 to 1991. On December 17, 2000, she left her position and joined the Bush administration as National Security Advisor. In Bush's second term, she became Secretary of State.

Following her confirmation as Secretary of State, Rice pioneered the policy of Transformational Diplomacy directed toward expanding the number of responsible democratic governments in the world and especially in the Greater Middle East. That policy faced challenges as Hamas captured a popular majority in Palestinian elections, and influential countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt maintained authoritarian systems (with U.S. backing). While in the position, she chaired the Millennium Challenge Corporation's board of directors.[3]

In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.[4][5] In September 2010, she became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy.[6]

She is on the Board of Directors of Dropbox and Makena Capital Management, LLC.[7][8][9]

Early life

Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of Angelena (née Ray) Rice, a high school science, music, and oratory teacher, and John Wesley Rice, Jr., a high school guidance counselor, Presbyterian minister,[10] and dean of students at Stillman College, a historically black college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[11] Her name, Condoleezza, derives from the music-related term con dolcezza, which in Italian means, "with sweetness". Rice has roots in the American South going back to the pre-Civil War era, and some of her ancestors worked as sharecroppers for a time after emancipation. Rice discovered on the PBS series Finding Your Roots[12] that she is of 51% African, 40% European, and 9% Asian or Native American genetic descent, while her mtDNA is traced back to the Tikar people of Cameroon.[13][14] In her 2017 book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, she writes, "My great-great-grandmother Zina on my mother's side bore five children by different slave owners" and "My great-grandmother on my father's side, Julia Head, carried the name of the slave owner and was so favored by him that he taught her to read."[15] Rice grew up in the Titusville[16] neighborhood of Birmingham, and then Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at a time when the South was racially segregated. The Rices lived on the campus of Stillman College.[11]

Early education

Rice began to learn French, music, figure skating and ballet at the age of three.[17] At the age of fifteen, she began piano classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist.[18] While Rice ultimately did not become a professional pianist, she still practices often and plays with a chamber music group. She accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Johannes Brahms' Violin Sonata in D Minor at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards.[19][20]

High school and university education

In 1967, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. She attended St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, and graduated at age 16 in 1971. Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father was then serving as an assistant dean.

Rice initially majored in Music, and after her sophomore year, she went to the Aspen Music Festival and School. There, she later said, she met students of greater talent than herself, and she doubted her career prospects as a pianist. She began to consider an alternative major.[18][21] She attended an International Politics course taught by Josef Korbel, which sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations. Rice later described Korbel (who is the father of Madeleine Albright, then a future U.S. Secretary of State), as a central figure in her life.[22]

In 1974, at age 19, Rice was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and was awarded a B.A., cum laude, in political science by the University of Denver. While at the University of Denver she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Delta chapter.[23] She obtained a master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975. She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She would also study Russian at Moscow State University in the summer of 1979, and intern with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.[24] In 1981, at age 26, she received her Ph.D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her dissertation centered on military policy and politics in what was then the communist state of Czechoslovakia.[25]

From 1980 to 1981, she was a fellow at Stanford University's Arms Control and Disarmament Program, having won a Ford Foundation Dual Expertise Fellowship in Soviet Studies and International Security.[24] The award granted a year-long fellowship at Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or University of California, Los Angeles. Rice contacted both Harvard and Stanford, but states that Harvard ignored her.[24] Her fellowship at Stanford began her academic affiliation with the University and time in Northern California.

Early political views

Rice was a Democrat until 1982, when she changed her political affiliation to Republican, in part because she disagreed with the foreign policy of Democratic President Jimmy Carter,[26][27] and because of the influence of her father, who was Republican. As she told the 2000 Republican National Convention, "My father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did."[28]

Academic career

Rice was hired by Stanford University as an assistant professor of political science (1981–1987). She was promoted to associate professor in 1987, a post she held until 1993. She was a specialist on the Soviet Union and gave lectures on the subject for the Berkeley-Stanford joint program led by UC Berkeley Professor George W. Breslauer in the mid-1980s.

At a 1985 meeting of arms control experts at Stanford, Rice's performance drew the attention of Brent Scowcroft, who had served as National Security Advisor under Gerald Ford.[29] With the election of George H. W. Bush, Scowcroft returned to the White House as National Security Adviser in 1989, and he asked Rice to become his Soviet expert on the United States National Security Council. According to R. Nicholas Burns, President Bush was "captivated" by Rice, and relied heavily on her advice in his dealings with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.[29]

Because she would have been ineligible for tenure at Stanford if she had been absent for more than two years, she returned there in 1991. She was taken under the wing of George P. Shultz (Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989), who was a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Shultz included Rice in a "luncheon club" of intellectuals who met every few weeks to discuss foreign affairs.[29] In 1992, Shultz, who was a board member of Chevron Corporation, recommended Rice for a spot on the Chevron board. Chevron was pursuing a $10 billion development project in Kazakhstan and, as a Soviet specialist, Rice knew the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. She traveled to Kazakhstan on Chevron's behalf and, in honor of her work, in 1993, Chevron named a 129,000-ton supertanker SS Condoleezza Rice.[29] During this period, Rice was also appointed to the boards of Transamerica Corporation (1991) and Hewlett-Packard (1992).

At Stanford, in 1992, Rice volunteered to serve on the search committee to replace outgoing president Donald Kennedy. The committee ultimately recommended Gerhard Casper, the Provost of the University of Chicago. Casper met Rice during this search, and was so impressed that in 1993, he appointed her as Stanford's Provost, the chief budget and academic officer of the university in 1993[29] and she also was granted tenure and became full professor.[30] Rice was the first female, first African-American, and youngest Provost in Stanford's history.[31] She was also named a senior fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a senior fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution.

Provost promotion

Former Stanford President Gerhard Casper said the university was "most fortunate in persuading someone of Professor Rice's exceptional talents and proven ability in critical situations to take on this task. Everything she has done, she has done well; I have every confidence that she will continue that record as provost."[32] Acknowledging Rice's unique character, Casper told the New Yorker in 2002 that it "would be disingenuous for me to say that the fact that she was a woman, the fact that she was black and the fact that she was young weren't in my mind."[33][34]

Balancing school budget

As Stanford's Provost, Rice was responsible for managing the university's multibillion-dollar budget. The school at that time was running a deficit of $20 million. When Rice took office, she promised that the budget would be balanced within "two years." Coit Blacker, Stanford's deputy director of the Institute for International Studies, said there "was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn't be done ... that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it." Two years later, Rice announced that the deficit had been eliminated and the university was holding a record surplus of over $14.5 million.[35]

Special interest issues

Rice drew protests when, as Provost, she departed from the practice of applying affirmative action to tenure decisions and unsuccessfully sought to consolidate the university's ethnic community centers.[34]

Return to Stanford

During a farewell interview in early December 2008, Rice indicated she would return to Stanford and the Hoover Institution, "back west of the Mississippi where I belong," but beyond writing and teaching did not specify what her role would be.[36] Rice's plans for a return to campus were elaborated in an interview with the Stanford Report in January 2009.[37] She returned to Stanford as a political science professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution on March 1, 2009.[38] As of 2012 she is on the Political Science faculty as a professor of political science and on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business as the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy, in addition to being the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.[39]

Role in nuclear strategy

In 1986, Rice was appointed special assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to work on nuclear strategic planning as part of a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship. In 2005, Rice assumed office as Secretary of State. Rice played an important role in trying to stop the nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran.[40]

North Korea

North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985, but in 2002 revealed they were operating a secret nuclear weapons program that violated the 1994 agreement. The 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea included North Korea agreeing to freeze and eventually dismantle its graphite moderated nuclear reactors, in exchange for international aid which would help them to build two new light-water nuclear reactors. In 2003, North Korea officially withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rice played a key role in the idea of "six-party talks" that brought China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea into discussion with North Korea and the United States.[41] During these discussions, Rice gave strong talks to urge North Korea to dismantle their nuclear power program. In 2005, North Korea agreed to give up its entire nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and economic benefits to ensure its survival.[40] Despite the agreement in 2005, in 2006, North Korea test fired long range missiles. The UN Security Council demanded North Korea suspend the program. In 2007, Rice was involved in another nuclear agreement with North Korea (Pyongyang). Rice, other negotiators for the United States and four other nations (six-party talks) reached a deal with North Korea. In this deal North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for $400 million in fuel and aid.[40]


In 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the Agreement for Cooperation between the United States and India involving peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As Secretary of State, Rice was involved in the negation of this agreement.[40]


Rice has played piano in public since she was a young girl. At the age of 15, she played Mozart with the Denver Symphony, and while Secretary of State she played regularly with a chamber music group in Washington.[19] She does not play professionally, but has performed at diplomatic events at embassies, including a performance for Queen Elizabeth II,[42][43] and she has performed in public with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer Aretha Franklin.[44] In 2005, Rice accompanied Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick, a 21-year-old soprano, for a benefit concert for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association at the Kennedy Center in Washington.[45][46] She performed briefly during her cameo appearance in the "Everything Sunny All the Time Always" episode of 30 Rock. She has stated that her favorite composer is Johannes Brahms, because she thinks Brahms's music is "passionate but not sentimental." On a complementary note, on Friday, April 10, 2009, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she stated that her favorite band is Led Zeppelin.

As Secretary of State, Rice was ex officio a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As the end of their tenures approached in January 2009, outgoing President Bush appointed her to a six-year term as a general trustee, filling a vacancy on the board.

Private sector

Rice headed Chevron's committee on public policy until she resigned on January 15, 2001, to become National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Chevron honored Rice by naming an oil tanker Condoleezza Rice after her, but controversy led to its being renamed Altair Voyager.[47][48]

She also served on the board of directors for the Carnegie Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Chevron Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Rand Corporation, the Transamerica Corporation, and other organizations.

In 1992, Rice founded the Center for New Generation, an after-school program created to raise the high school graduation numbers of East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, California.[49] After her tenure as secretary of state, Rice was approached in February 2009 to fill an open position as a Pac-10 Commissioner,[50] but chose instead to return to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.

In 2014 Rice joined the Ban Bossy campaign as a spokesperson advocating leadership roles for girls.[51][52][53]

Early political career

In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice served as special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

From 1989 through March 1991 (the period of the fall of Berlin Wall and the final days of the Soviet Union), she served in President George H. W. Bush's administration as director, and then senior director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, Rice wrote what would become known as the "Chicken Kiev speech" in which Bush advised the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, against independence. She also helped develop Bush's and Secretary of State James Baker's policies in favor of German reunification. She impressed Bush, who later introduced her to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as the one who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."[54]

In 1991, Rice returned to her teaching position at Stanford, although she continued to serve as a consultant on the former Soviet Bloc for numerous clients in both the public and private sectors. Late that year, California Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to a bipartisan committee that had been formed to draw new state legislative and congressional districts in the state.

In 1997, she sat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military.

During George W. Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, Rice took a one-year leave of absence from Stanford University to serve as his foreign policy advisor. The group of advisors she led called itself The Vulcans in honor of the monumental Vulcan statue, which sits on a hill overlooking her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Rice would later go on to give a noteworthy speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention. The speech asserted that "...  America's armed forces are not a global police force. They are not the world's 911."[28][55][56]

National Security Advisor (2001–2005)

On December 17, 2000, Rice was named as National Security Advisor and stepped down from her position at Stanford.[57] She was the first woman to occupy the post. Rice earned the nickname of "Warrior Princess", reflecting strong nerve and delicate manners.[58]

On January 18, 2003, The Washington Post reported that Rice was involved in crafting Bush's position on race-based preferences. Rice has stated that "while race-neutral means are preferable", race can be taken into account as "one factor among others" in university admissions policies.[59]


During the summer of 2001, Rice met with CIA Director George Tenet to discuss the possibilities and prevention of terrorist attacks on American targets. On July 10, 2001, Rice met with Tenet in what he referred to as an "emergency meeting"[60] held at the White House at Tenet's request to brief Rice and the NSC staff about the potential threat of an impending al Qaeda attack. Rice responded by asking Tenet to give a presentation on the matter to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft.[61] Rice characterized the August 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US as historical information. Rice indicated "It was information based on old reporting."[62] Sean Wilentz of Salon magazine suggested that the PDB contained current information based on continuing investigations, including that Bin Laden wanted to "bring the fighting to America."[63] On September 11, 2001, Rice was scheduled to outline a new national security policy that included missile defense as a cornerstone and played down the threat of stateless terrorism.[64]

When asked in 2006 about the July 2001 meeting, Rice asserted she did not recall the specific meeting, commenting that she had met repeatedly with Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Moreover, she stated that it was "incomprehensible" to her that she had ignored terrorist threats two months before the September 11 attacks.[60]

In 2003, Rice received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[65]

In August 2010, Rice received the U.S. Air Force Academy's 2009 Thomas D. White National Defense Award for contributions to the defense and security of the United States.[66]


In March 2004, Rice declined to testify before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission). The White House claimed executive privilege under constitutional separation of powers and cited past tradition. Under pressure, Bush agreed to allow her to testify so long as it did not create a precedent of presidential staff being required to appear before United States Congress when so requested.[67] In April 2007, Rice rejected, on grounds of executive privilege, a House subpoena regarding the prewar claim that Iraq sought yellowcake uranium from Niger.[68]


Rice was a proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After Iraq delivered its declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations on December 8, 2002, Rice wrote an editorial for The New York Times entitled "Why We Know Iraq Is Lying".[69] In a January 10, 2003, interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Rice made headlines by stating regarding Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."[70]

In October 2003, Rice was named to run the Iraq Stabilization Group, to "quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries."[71] By May 2004, The Washington Post reported that the council had become virtually nonexistent.[72]

Leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Rice became the first National Security Advisor to campaign for an incumbent president. She stated that while: "Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the actual attacks on America, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a part of the Middle East that was festering and unstable, [and] was part of the circumstances that created the problem on September 11."[73]

After the invasion, when it became clear that Iraq did not have nuclear WMD capability, critics called Rice's claims a "hoax", "deception" and "demagogic scare tactic".[74][75] Dana Milbank and Mike Allen wrote in The Washington Post: "Either she missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false".[76]

Role in authorizing use of controversial interrogation techniques

A Senate Intelligence Committee reported that on July 17, 2002, Rice met with CIA director George Tenet to personally convey the Bush administration's approval of the proposed waterboarding of alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah. "Days after Dr Rice gave Mr Tenet her approval, the Justice Department approved the use of waterboarding in a top secret August 1 memo."[77] Waterboarding is considered to be torture by a wide range of authorities, including legal experts,[78][79][80][81] war veterans,[82][83] intelligence officials,[84] military judges,[85] human rights organizations,[86][87][88][89][90][91][92][93] U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,[94] and many senior politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama.[95]

In 2003 Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft met with the CIA again and were briefed on the use of waterboarding and other methods including week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of stress positions. The Senate report says that the Bush administration officials "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy".[77]

The Senate report also "suggests Miss Rice played a more significant role than she acknowledged in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted in the autumn."[77] At that time, she had acknowledged attending meetings to discuss the CIA interrogations, but she claimed that she could not recall the details, and she "omitted her direct role in approving the programme in her written statement to the committee."[96]

In a conversation with a student at Stanford University in April 2009, Rice stated that she did not authorize the CIA to use the enhanced interrogation techniques. Rice said, "I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."[97] She added, "We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture."[97]

In 2015, citing her role in authorizing the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques", Human Rights Watch called for the investigation of Rice "for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes."[98]

Secretary of State (2005–2009)

On November 16, 2004, Bush nominated Rice to be Secretary of State. On January 26, 2005, the Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 85–13.[99] The negative votes, the most cast against any nomination for Secretary of State since 1825,[99] came from Senators who, according to Senator Barbara Boxer, wanted "to hold Dr. Rice and the Bush administration accountable for their failures in Iraq and in the war on terrorism."[100] Their reasoning was that Rice had acted irresponsibly in equating Saddam's regime with Islamist terrorism and some could not accept her previous record. Senator Robert Byrd voted against Rice's appointment, indicating that she "has asserted that the President holds far more of the war power than the Constitution grants him."[101]

As Secretary of State, Rice championed the expansion of democratic governments and other American values: "American values are universal."[102] "An international order that reflects our values is the best guarantee of our enduring national interest ..."[103] Rice stated that the September 11 attacks in 2001 were rooted in "oppression and despair" and so, the US must advance democratic reform and support basic rights throughout the greater Middle East.[104] Rice also reformed and restructured the department, as well as US diplomacy as a whole. "Transformational Diplomacy" is the goal that Rice describes as "work[ing] with our many partners around the world ... [and] build[ing] and sustain[ing] democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."[105]

As Secretary of State, Rice traveled heavily and initiated many diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Bush administration;[106] she holds the record for most miles logged in the position.[107] Her diplomacy relied on strong presidential support and is considered to be the continuation of style defined by former Republican secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James Baker.[106]

Post–Bush administration

After the end of the Bush Administration, Rice returned to academia and joined the Council on Foreign Relations.[108]

She appeared as herself in 2011 on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock in the fifth-season episode "Everything Sunny All the Time Always", in which she engages in a classical-music duel with Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Within the world of the show, Donaghy had had a relationship with Rice during the show's first season.

It was announced in 2013 that Rice was writing a book to be published in 2015 by Henry Holt & Company.[109]

In August 2015, High Point University announced that Rice would speak at the 2016 commencement ceremony.[110] Her commencement address was highlighted by The Huffington Post,[111] Fortune,[112] Business Insider,[113] NBC News, Time, and USA Today.[114]

In May 2017, Rice said that alleged Russian hacking of DNC emails should "absolutely not" delegitimize Donald Trump's presidency.[115]

College Football Playoff Selection Committee

In October 2013, Rice was selected to be one of the thirteen inaugural members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.[116] Her appointment caused a minor controversy in the sport.[117] In October 2014, she revealed that she watched "14 or 15 games every week live on TV on Saturdays and recorded games on Sundays."[118] Her term on the committee expired at the conclusion of the 2016 college football season.

Speculation on political future

As early as 2003, there were reports that Rice was considering a run for governor of California, while ruling out running for senate in 2004.[119] There was also speculation that Rice would run for the Republican nomination in the 2008 primaries, which she ruled out on Meet the Press. On February 22, 2008, Rice played down any suggestion that she may be on the Republican vice presidential ticket: "I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States."[120] During an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Times on March 27, 2008, Rice said she was "not interested" in running for vice president.[121] In a Gallup poll from March 24 to 27, 2008, Rice was mentioned by eight percent of Republican respondents to be their first choice to be John McCain's Republican vice presidential running mate, slightly behind Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.[122]

Republican strategist Dan Senor said on ABC's This Week on April 6, 2008, that "Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for" the vice presidential nomination. He based this assessment on her attendance of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform conservative leader's meeting on March 26, 2008.[123] In response to Senor's comments, Rice's spokesperson denied that Rice was seeking the vice presidential nomination, saying, "If she is actively seeking the vice presidency, then she's the last one to know about it."[124]

In August 2008, the speculation about a potential McCain-Rice ticket finally ended when then-Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was selected as McCain's running-mate.

In early December 2008, Rice praised President-elect Barack Obama's selection of New York Senator Hillary Clinton to succeed her as Secretary of State, saying "she's terrific". Rice, who spoke to Clinton after her selection, said Clinton "is someone of intelligence and she'll do a great job".[125]

Political positions

Condoleeza Rice is often described as a centrist or moderate Republican.[126][127] On The Issues, a non-partisan organization which rates candidates based on their policy positions, considers Rice to be a centrist.[128] She takes both liberal and conservative positions; she is pro-choice on abortion, supports gun rights, opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, and supports building oil pipelines such as the Keystone XL pipeline.[129][130]

Terrorist activity

Rice's policy as Secretary of State viewed counter-terrorism as a matter of being preventative, and not merely punitive. In an interview on December 18, 2005, Rice stated: "We have to remember that in this war on terrorism, we're not talking about criminal activity where you can allow somebody to commit the crime and then you go back and you arrest them and you question them. If they succeed in committing their crime, then hundreds or indeed thousands of people die. That's why you have to prevent, and intelligence is the long pole in the tent in preventing attacks."[131]

Rice has also been a frequent critic of the intelligence community's inability to cooperate and share information, which she believes is an integral part of preventing terrorism. In 2000, one year after Osama bin Laden told Time "[h]ostility toward America is a religious duty,"[55] and a year before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Rice warned on WJR Detroit: "You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence." She then added: "There needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory."[132]

Rice also has promoted the idea that counterterrorism involves not only confronting the governments and organizations that promote and condone terrorism, but also the ideologies that fuel terrorism. In a speech given on July 29, 2005, Rice asserted that "[s]ecuring America from terrorist attack is more than a matter of law enforcement. We must also confront the ideology of hatred in foreign societies by supporting the universal hope of liberty and the inherent appeal of democracy."[133]

In January 2005, during Bush's second inaugural ceremonies, Rice first used the term "outposts of tyranny" to refer to countries Rice thought to threaten world peace and human rights. This term has been called a descendant of Bush's phrase, "Axis of Evil", used to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea. She identified six such "outposts" in which she said the United States has a duty to foster freedom: Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma and Belarus, as well as Iran and North Korea.


Rice said "If you go back to 2000 when I helped the president in the campaign. I said that I was, in effect, kind of libertarian on this issue. And meaning by that, that I have been concerned about a government role in this issue. I am a strong proponent of parental choice—of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be. I've called myself at times mildly pro-choice."[134] She would not want the federal government "forcing its views on one side or the other."[135] She does not want the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, to be overturned.[136]

Rice said she believes President Bush "has been in exactly the right place" on abortion, "which is we have to respect the culture of life and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible". However, she added that she has been "concerned about a government role" but has "tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund" the procedure.[135]

Affirmative Action

Rice has taken a centrist approach to "race and gender preferences" in affirmative action policies.[137] She described affirmative action as being "still needed," but she does not support quotas.[138]

Female empowerment advocacy

In March 2014 Rice joined and appeared in video spots for the Ban Bossy campaign, a television and social media campaign designed to ban the word "bossy" from general use because of its harmful effect on young girls. Several video spots with other notable spokespersons including Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner and others were produced along with a web site providing school training material, leadership tips, and an online pledge form to which visitors can promise not to use the word.[51][52][53]


Condoleezza Rice supported the comprehensive immigration plan backed by the Bush administration and shared that it was among her regrets that it did not pass through Congress.[139] In 2014, Rice criticized the Obama administration from seeking to approve immigration reforms through executive action.[140] In February 2017 Rice publicly announced her opposition to the Trump administration's travel ban.[139]

Gun rights

Rice says that she became a "Second Amendment absolutist" due to her experience of growing up in Birmingham and facing threats from the KKK.[140] "Rice's fondness for the Second Amendment began while watching her father sit on the porch with a gun, ready to defend his family against the Klan's night riders."[141]

Same-sex marriage and LGBT issues

While Rice does not support same-sex marriage, she does support civil unions. In 2010, Rice stated that she believed "marriage is between a man and a woman ... But perhaps we will decide that there needs to be some way for people to express their desire to live together through civil union."[142] When asked to select a view on a survey, Rice selected a response that said "Same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry in the traditional sense."[143]

Confederate monuments

In May 2017, Rice said she opposes the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials or the renaming of buildings named after Confederate generals.[144] She argued, "If you forget your history, you're likely to repeat it. ... When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it's a bad thing."[145]

Racial discrimination

Rice experienced firsthand the injustices of Birmingham's discriminatory laws and attitudes. She was instructed to walk proudly in public and to use the facilities at home rather than subject herself to the indignity of "colored" facilities in town. As Rice recalls of her parents and their peers, "they refused to allow the limits and injustices of their time to limit our horizons."[146]

However, Rice recalls various times in which she suffered discrimination on account of her race, which included being relegated to a storage room at a department store instead of a regular dressing room, being barred from going to the circus or the local amusement park, being denied hotel rooms, and even being given bad food at restaurants.[147] Also, while Rice was mostly kept by her parents from areas where she might face discrimination, she was very aware of the civil rights struggle and the problems of Jim Crow laws in Birmingham. A neighbor, Juliemma Smith, described how "[Condi] used to call me and say things like, 'Did you see what Bull Connor did today?' She was just a little girl and she did that all the time. I would have to read the newspaper thoroughly because I wouldn't know what she was going to talk about."[147] Rice herself said of the segregation era: "Those terrible events burned into my consciousness. I missed many days at my segregated school because of the frequent bomb threats."[147]

During the violent days of the Civil Rights Movement, Reverend Rice armed himself and kept guard over the house while Condoleezza practiced the piano inside. According to J. L. Chestnut, Reverend Rice called local civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth and his followers "uneducated, misguided Negroes."[148] Also, Reverend Rice instilled in his daughter and students that black people would have to prove themselves worthy of advancement, and would simply have to be "twice as good" to overcome injustices built into the system.[149] Rice said "My parents were very strategic, I was going to be so well prepared, and I was going to do all of these things that were revered in white society so well, that I would be armored somehow from racism. I would be able to confront white society on its own terms."[150] While the Rices supported the goals of the civil rights movement, they did not agree with the idea of putting their child in harm's way.[147]

Rice was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair, aged 11, was murdered in the bombing of the primarily black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists on September 15, 1963.[2] Rice has commented upon that moment in her life:

I remember the bombing of that Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I did not see it happen, but I heard it happen, and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father's church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate, Denise McNair. The crime was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations. But those fears were not propelled forward, those terrorists failed.[151]

Rice states that growing up during racial segregation taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities.[152] Segregation also hardened her stance on the right to bear arms; Rice has said in interviews that if gun registration had been mandatory, her father's weapons would have been confiscated by Birmingham's segregationist director of public safety, Bull Connor,[153] leaving them defenseless against Ku Klux Klan nightriders.[147]


Rice has appeared four times on the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. Rice is one of only nine people in the world whose influence has been considered enduring enough to have made the list—first compiled in 1999 as a retrospective of the 20th century and made an annual feature in 2004—so frequently. However, the list contains people who have the influence to change for better or for worse, and Time has also accused her of squandering her influence, stating on February 1, 2007, that her "accomplishments as Secretary of State have been modest, and even those have begun to fade" and that she "has been slow to recognize the extent to which the U.S.'s prestige has declined."[154] In its March 19, 2007 issue it followed up stating that Rice was "executing an unmistakable course correction in U.S. foreign policy."[155]

In 2004 and 2005, she was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine and number two in 2006 (following the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel).[156]

Criticism from Senator Barbara Boxer

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has also criticized Rice in relation to the war in Iraq. During Rice's confirmation hearing for US Secretary of State in January 2005, Boxer stated, "I personally believe—this is my personal view—that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth."[157]

On January 11, 2007, Boxer, during a debate over the war in Iraq, said, "Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact."[158]

The New York Post and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow called Boxer's statement an attack on Rice's status as a single, childless female and referred to Boxer's comments as "a great leap backward for feminism."[159] Rice later echoed Snow's remarks, saying "I thought it was okay to not have children, and I thought you could still make good decisions on behalf of the country if you were single and didn't have children." Boxer responded to the controversy by saying "They're getting this off on a non-existent thing that I didn't say. I'm saying, she's like me, we do not have families who are in the military."[160]

Conservative criticism

According to The Washington Post in late July 2008, former Undersecretary of State and U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton was referring to Rice and her allies in the Bush Administration whom he believes have abandoned earlier hard-line principles when he said: "Once the collapse begins, adversaries have a real opportunity to gain advantage. In terms of the Bush presidency, this many reversals this close to the end destroys credibility ... It appears there is no depth to which this administration will not sink in its last days."[161]

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly criticized Rice after their terms in office ended. In his book Known and Unknown: A Memoir, he portrayed her as a young, inexperienced academic who did not know her place.[162] In 2011 she responded, saying that Rumsfeld "doesn't know what he's talking about."[163] She further addresses the issue in her own book saying, "He would become frustrated when my staff would reach out to military officers in the Pentagon to coordinate the particulars of a policy among the agencies. This was a routine responsibility for the NSC, but for some reason Don interpreted such actions as a violation of his authority."[164]

In his book In My Time, Dick Cheney suggested that Rice had misled the president about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, saying she was naïve. He called her advice on the issue "utterly misleading." He also chided Rice for clashing with White House advisers on the tone of the president's speeches on Iraq and said that she, as the Secretary of State, ruefully conceded to him that the Bush administration should not have apologized for a claim the president made in his 2003 State of the Union address, on Saddam's supposed search for yellowcake uranium. She "came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right," Cheney wrote. Rice responded: "It certainly doesn't sound like me, now, does it?", saying that she viewed the book as an "attack on my integrity."[165]

Rice has also been criticized by other conservatives. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard accused her of jettisoning the Bush Doctrine, including the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.[166] Other conservatives criticized her for her approach to Russia policy and other issues.[167]

Views within the black community

Rice's ratings decreased following a heated battle for her confirmation as Secretary of State and following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Rice's rise within the George W. Bush administration initially drew a largely positive response from many in the black community. In a 2002 survey, then National Security Advisor Rice was viewed favorably by 41% of black respondents, but another 40% did not know Rice well enough to rate her and her profile remained comparatively obscure.[168] As her role increased, some black commentators began to express doubts concerning Rice's stances and statements on various issues. In 2005, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson asked, "How did [Rice] come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans?"[169]

In August 2005, American musician, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte, who serves on the Board of TransAfrica, referred to blacks in the Bush administration as "black tyrants."[170] Belafonte's comments received mixed reactions.[168]

Rice dismissed these criticisms during a September 14, 2005 interview when she said, "Why would I worry about something like that? ... The fact of the matter is I've been black all my life. Nobody needs to tell me how to be black."[171]

Black commentators have defended Rice, including Mike Espy,[172] Andrew Young, C. Delores Tucker (chair of the National Congress of Black Women),[173] Clarence Page,[174] Colbert King,[175] Dorothy Height (chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women)[175] and Kweisi Mfume (former Congressman and former CEO of the NAACP).[176]

Family and personal life

Rice has never married and has no children.[159] In the 1970s, she dated and was briefly engaged to professional American football player Rick Upchurch but left him because, according to biographer Marcus Mabry, she "knew the relationship wasn't going to work."[41]

Rice's mother, Angelena Rice, died of breast cancer in August 1985, aged 61, when Rice was 30.[177] In July 1989, Rice's father, John Wesley Rice, wed Clara Bailey,[178] to whom he remained married until his death in December 2000, aged 77.[179]

From 2003 to 2017, Rice co-owned a home in Palo Alto, California with Randy Bean. According to public records, the two initially purchased the home with a third investor, Stanford University professor Coit D. Blacker, who later sold his line of credit to the two women. The property arrangement was first revealed in Glenn Kessler's book The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy (2007), sparking rumors about the nature of Rice and Bean's relationship. Kessler has stated he "did not know if this meant there was something more to the relationship between the women beyond a friendship."[180][181][182][183]

On August 20, 2012, Rice was one of the first two women to be admitted as members to Augusta National Golf Club; the other was South Carolina financier Darla Moore.[184] In 2014, Rice was named to the ESPNW Impact 25.[185]

Honorary degrees

Condoleezza Rice has received honorary degrees from many universities, including the following:

Honorary degrees
Georgia1991Morehouse CollegeDoctor of Laws (LL.D)
 Alabama1994University of AlabamaDoctor of Humane Letters (DHL)
 Indiana1995University of Notre DameDoctorate
 District of Columbia2002National Defense UniversityDoctor of National Security Affairs
 Mississippi2003Mississippi College School of LawDoctor of Laws (LL.D)
 Kentucky2004University of LouisvilleDoctor of Public Service
 MichiganSpring 2004Michigan State UniversityDoctor of Humane Letters (DHL)[186]
 MassachusettsMay 22, 2006Boston CollegeDoctor of Laws (LL.D)[187]
 AlabamaApril 14, 2008Air UniversityDoctor of Letters (D. Litt)[188]
 North Carolina2010Johnson C. Smith UniversityDoctor of Laws (LL.D)[189]
 TexasMay 12, 2012Southern Methodist UniversityDoctor of Laws (LL.D)[190]
 VirginiaMay 2015College of William and MaryDoctor of Public Service[191]
 TennesseeMay 12, 2018Sewanee: The University of the SouthDoctor of Civil Law[192]


See also

Published works

  • Rice, Condoleezza (1984). The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army: Uncertain Allegiance. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06921-2
  • Rice, Condoleezza & Dallin, Alexander (eds.) (1986). The Gorbachev Era. Stanford Alumni Association, trade paperback (1986), ISBN 0-916318-18-4; Garland Publishing, Incorporated, hardcover (1992), 376 pages, ISBN 0-8153-0571-0.
  • Rice, Condoleezza with Zelikow, Philip D. Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft. Harvard University Press. hardcover (1995), 520 pages, ISBN 0-674-35324-2; trade paperback, 1997, 520 pages, ISBN 0-674-35325-0.
  • Rice, Condoleezza, "Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest" in Foreign Affairs, 2000.
  • Rice, Condoleezza, with Kiron K. Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia, and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. The Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin (2007), paperback, 356 pages, ISBN 978-0-472-03319-5. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.
  • Rice, Condoleezza, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (2010) Crown Archetype, ISBN 978-0-307-58787-9
  • Rice, Condoleezza, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (2011) Crown Archetype, ISBN 978-0-307-58786-2
  • Rice, Condoleezza, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom (2017) Twelve, 496 pages, ISBN 978-1455540181.
  • Rice, Condoleezza; Zegart, Amy (2018). Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity. New York City: Twelve. ISBN 9781455542352. OCLC 1019846069.


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Further reading

Academic studies

  • John P. Burke; "Condoleezza Rice as NSC Advisor A Case Study of the Honest Broker Role" Presidential Studies Quarterly v 35 #3 pp 554+.
  • James Mann. Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004)
  • Cunningham, Kevin (2005). Condoleezza Rice: U.S. Secretary Of State (Journey to Freedom) Child's World ISBN 1-59296-231-9
  • Ditchfield, Christin (2003). Condoleezza Rice: National Security Advisor (Great Life Stories) middle school audience Franklin Watts ISBN 0-531-12307-3
  • Flanders, Laura. (2004). Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso) ISBN 978-1-85984-587-5
  • Kessler, Glenn (2007). The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy. ISBN 978-0-312-36380-2
  • Morris, Dick with Eileen McGann. (2005) Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race Regan Books ISBN 0-06-083913-9
  • Ryan, Bernard, Jr. (2003). Condoleezza Rice: National Security Advisor and Musician (Ferguson Career Biographies) Facts on File ISBN 0-8160-5480-0
  • Wade, Linda R. (2002). Condoleezza Rice: A Real-Life Reader Biography (Real-Life Reader Biography) Mitchell Lane Publishers ISBN 1-58415-145-5, middle school audience
  • Wade, Mary Dodson (2003). Condoleezza Rice: Being The Best Millbrook Press Lerner Books ISBN 0-7613-1927-1, middle school audience
  • Rice, Condoleezza (2010). Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me Ember ISBN 978-0385738804
Academic offices
Preceded by
Gerald Lieberman
Provost of Stanford University
Succeeded by
John L. Hennessy
Political offices
Preceded by
Sandy Berger
National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Stephen Hadley
Preceded by
Colin Powell
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Hillary Clinton
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