So the big rumor is that Mitt Romney is leaning toward Condi Rice.
That’s interesting for a bunch of reasons.
But from Jewville…it’s worth noting that Rice was arguably the Bush aide most responsible for pushing for a more assertive U.S. role in Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at the quick creation of a Palestinian state. She was chummy with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as they worked for a deal. Rice reportedly pressed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw Israeli troops (not just settlements) from Gaza and pushed the Israelis and Mahmoud Abbas to allow new Palestinian elections — that ended with a Hamas victory and the terrorist group ultimately in control of Gaza. Critics say those two developments led to increased rocket attacks on Israel and escalated Hamas-Israel clashes. [CLARIFICATION: I probably should not have lumped the elections issue in with the other stuff — it’s not about whether you think a two-state solution is something to be pressing hard for or not. After all, the push for elections has been criticized by the likes of both President Obama and Liz Cheney. So you can favor heavy U.S. mediation but still think holding the elections was a bad idea. That said… I think the issue does speak to Rice’s view (at least at the time) that the United States has a serious and active role to play in moving things along.]
Bottom line: Rice might have tactical criticisms of the Obama administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but one could make the case that overall she’s a big advocate of a two-state solution who is closer to the Obama team on this issue than she is to where the GOP candidates and GOP base have been during this campaign season.
Don’t believe me? Check out this JTA report on her speech (and pre-speech exclusive interview) at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America in 2007.
If Hillary Clinton gave that speech today… the Republican Jewish Coalition and conservative bloggers would have a field day.
UPDATE: Here is the transcript of the JTA’s Q & A with Rice.