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New VP Buzz Centers on a Familiar Name

Susan Rice, former national security adviser, seen as a top contender
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2020 7:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Susan Rice is suddenly the topic of a lot of speculation in Joe Biden's running mate sweepstakes. The 55-year-old worked with Biden in the Obama administration as national security adviser and as ambassador to the UN, but she was also was embroiled in the controversy over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Coverage:

  • Unorthodox: Politico puts her near the top of the shortlist in a lengthy story. It would be an "unorthodox" pick given that she has never run for public office and nearly all of her credentials revolve around foreign policy. Her powerful edge is that Biden has worked closely with her and knows her well; it also doesn't hurt that she isn't seen as a VP who would be eyeing a presidential run, as is the perception with Sen. Kamala Harris.

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  • Simpatico: The New York Times also is out with a story, noting she was a Rhodes scholar at 21 and an assistant secretary of state at 32. "While she and Mr. Biden have had policy disagreements over the years, they share a deeply held view of the importance of diplomacy and international institutions, a concern for promoting democracy and human rights and a common pride in Obama-era achievements that they helped shape, like the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal," writes Alexander Burns. Her foreign policy chops would allow Biden to focus on the national crises of the pandemic and the economy.
  • Controversies: Rice's surge up the list of potential running mates is giving some Democrats pause because she is such a lightning rod for critics on the right, reports the Daily Beast. Choosing her might "reinvigorate" the Trump campaign in some respects. One Democratic aide sums up: She "is extremely accomplished and experienced and would obviously help a President Biden tremendously on national security, but on the political side, unfortunately, she has been the target of crazy right-wing hate for years."
  • Benghazi: Yes, wild conspiracy theories about the 2012 attack that left four Americans dead were debunked, but as the Times' Burns points out, "Rice ended up taking the political fall for appearing on the Sunday shows to deliver a set of flawed administration talking points describing it as an outburst of spontaneous violence rather than organized terrorism." Expect the whole controversy to be raised anew if Rice is on the ticket.
  • In favor: At Washington Monthly, Jonathan Alter makes the case for Rice, discussing all of the above issues, along with another: Rice's son, John Rice-Cameron, is a prominent Republican. But that might actually work in Rice's favor. "Many voters with friends and relatives who are Trump supporters may find Rice’s situation with her son human and relatable."
  • Top 6: Aaron Blake of the Washington Post has updated his list of top contenders. Here are the top six, in order: Sens. Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Tammy Duckworth; Rice; and Reps. Val Demings and Karen Bass.
(Read more Susan Rice stories.)

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