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Rice makes return to political spotlight complete in Tampa

 

Condoleezza Rice insists she's not interested in politics. 

But Republicans can't help but notice the former secretary of state is back in the thick of it these days, holding fundraisers, endorsing candidates and making a string of political-sounding speeches. Perhaps her biggest post-administration address is coming up Wednesday, as she delivers remarks on the Republican National Convention stage shortly before vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan closes out the night. 

"I'm going to talk about America at home and abroad, the need for America to speak with a voice that the world can hear, but a need for America to rebuild at home," Rice told Fox News Wednesday morning, offering a taste of the speech to come. "Because the essence of American exceptionalism is who we are here." 

With Rice returning to the spotlight after spending the last several years back in California, as a professor with Stanford University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, she pushed back on the suggestion that she might be angling for a spot in a Romney administration Cabinet. 

"I want Mitt Romney to be elected president," she told Fox News, before adding: "I am a very happy Stanford professor." 

She continued: "I've been secretary of state. I love foreign policy. I don't love politics. I love policy. When you have the chance to be America's chief diplomat, there's nothing else that you want to do in that regard." 

Rice, though, had some tough words for the Obama administration. With the U.S. and its allies limiting their involvement in Syria despite the bloodshed, Rice said she's asking herself: "Where is the United States?" 

And as for a rash of security leaks, Rice said she's "been stunned by some of the things that I've read in the press, some of the sort of crown jewels of national security." 

"I don't know the sources of these leaks, but I will say this. They need to stop," Rice said. 

Rice has been plenty active and plenty in the news recently -- for starters, when she became one of only two women to be granted membership in the previously all-male Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. 

The former secretary of state has been lending her voice to several politicians in tough races. She endorsed Rep. Sandy Adams over Rep. John Mica in the Florida GOP primary, and also Rep. Ben Quayle over Rep. Dave Schweikert in their nasty Arizona member-on-member primary battle. (Both Adams and Quayle lost.) 

Rice also reportedly is planning to stump for Mia Love, the Saratoga Springs, Utah, mayor running against a Blue Dog Democratic incumbent for Congress. According to the Deseret News, Rice is planning an early September public event and fundraiser on Love's behalf. Love, also a black female conservative, addressed the Republican convention Tuesday night. 

Asked Wednesday whether she is nervous about her speech, Rice was characteristically diplomatic. 

"Well, let's say I always have a healthy respect for making sure that you do a good job," she said.

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