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Newsweek PoliticsNewsweek  
More by the authorBiographyE-mail the AuthorGersh Kuntzman-American Beat
Condoleezza Dreamin'
The secretary of State says she’s not planning to run for president in 2008. Will she change her mind?
WEB EXCLUSIVE
Newsweek
Updated: 1:05 p.m. ET March 14, 2005

March 14 - I heard a loud screeching crash on Sunday morning, followed by 24 hours of wailing. Did you hear it, too? It was the sound of the Condi Rice bandwagon getting a flat tire and flying into the drainage ditch—and millions of Republicans going into spontaneous apoplexy.

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There it was, for all to hear, on NBC's "Meet the Press": Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice destroying the hopes of her party by vehemently denying that she will run for president in 2008.

Or did she? "I don't have any desire or intention of running for president," she said, by way of opening. That was too much wiggle room for host Tim Russert. So he persisted. "Desire or intention?" Russert asked.

"Both," Rice replied. Then Russert asked her to issue a Shermanesque refusal to run—as in, "If nominated, I will not accept. If elected, I will not serve." She wouldn't do it.

"Tim, I don't want to run for president of the United States," she said. Under more pressing, she tried, "I will not run for president of the United States. How is that? I don't know how many ways to say 'no' in this town."

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"You're done? You're out?" Russert pressed. "I'm done," she said. They danced back and forth a little while longer, with Rice continuing to say, "I don't intend to run," and Russert asking for her to be more definitive. Finally, she said it again: "I won't run." And Russert had his scoop—and every Republican in the country suddenly got a kick in the teeth.

I mean, we're talking about Condi Rice here—a woman who has never expressed even the slightest desire to be president of anything except the National Football League, yet finds herself on the top of every GOP poll and every Republican political consultant's wish list.

To assess just how depressed my Republican counterparts are about the news of Condi's refusal to run, I called my father. Loyal readers of this column know that Dad is a true conservative—a believer in low taxes, balanced budgets, limited government regulations, pre-emptive war and public display of the Ten Commandments (as long as all 10 are "Defeat Hillary Clinton").

I assumed he would be distraught after the "Meet the Press" interview, but I found him upbeat. In fact, he had the audacity to claim that Rice had not ruled out a run for the presidency, despite the fact that she had used almost those very words (except for the "not").

"She said she wouldn't run," my father said. "But that doesn't mean she won't allow herself to be drafted!" He then proceeded to review the "Meet the Press" transcript and promptly affirmed that Rice remained the front-runner.


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