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Condoleezza Rice asks, ‘where does America stand?’ in RNC speech

In her primetime address to the Republican National Committee, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice laid out the broad challenges facing the United States in the century ahead.

“We gather here at a time of significance and challenge,” she said to open her address. “I will never forget the bright September day… when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.”

In a speech that tilted towards foreign policy, Rice pointed to ongoing global conflicts. “The promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty… dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people… and China and Russia prevent a response,” she said. “Where does America stand?”

Rice, using notes instead of a teleprompter, delivered a speech that was somewhat stilting, but natural, a contrast with the theatrical presentation of Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM), who spoke immediately after Stanford professor and former provost.

She also managed to sneak in a reference to the Stanford area while talking about the drivers of economic growth. “[Immigrants] have come to the world’s advanced societies… to help fuel the knowledge-based revolution in the Silicon Valley of California [amongst other regions],” she said to sustained applause.

Rice’s speech centered, however, on the immediate threat facing the United States both from at home and abroad.

“The American ideal is indeed in danger today,” she said. “There is no country… that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we fail to accomplish the tasks before us here at home.”

She made few references to either Republican talking points or their nominee: she only used Mitt Romney’s name five times and only obliquely attacked the incumbent president.

“We cannot be reluctant to lead, and one cannot lead from behind,” she said, echoing one of the most frequent criticisms of the Obama administration.

In emphasizing the need for immigration and education reform, Rice pointed to the economic effects of inadequacy in both systems. “We need immigration laws that protect our borders… yet show that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants,” she said to raucous applause.

However, it was Rice’s personal story that may have drawn the loudest applause of the night despite the fact that convention planners had designed speakers around vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

“A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham… her parents can’t take her to a movie theatre or a restaurant,” she said to a standing ovation. “But they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she can be President of the United States and she becomes secretary of state.”

About Edward Ngai

Edward Ngai is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously, he has worked as a news desk editor, staff development editor and columnist. He was president and editor-in-chief of The Daily for Vol. 244 (2013-2014). Edward is a junior from Vancouver, Canada studying political science. This summer, he is the Daniel Pearl Memorial Intern at the Wall Street Journal.
  • Student

    Edward, I’ve read a lot of your articles this year and you’re a fantastic writer. I also love the topics you choose. Keep it up.

  • Jenny

    That was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard!

  • http://tedriii.blogspot.com/ Ted Rudow III

    Throughout time immemorial: the main idea being to get the mind of the public or your enemies off something you’re actually doing but you don’t want them to notice so you can do it with a little less observation. But after 8 years of hell in the Bush reign, they are trying to rewrite history! The attention of America from the well-worn fact that his ruling Republican party have always been the robbers of the poor and the protectors of the rich. Furious that the courageous exposure of his criminal hypocrisy and traitorous deception of the American people, and enraged by the humiliation of his scandalous Administration being the continuous major subject of daily worldwide headlines.
    Tough times can also lead to tough government actions and tyranny. It’s a time of upheaval, flux and change for the world, just as the 1930s were, the Great Depression period before World War II. First came the Roaring ’20s, then came the Depression ’30s, and then came the years of war of the ’40s. History doesn’t always repeat itself, of course, but it can sometimes. Yes, all the makings for a police state are there, and not just in the U.S. or Britain, but in any number of countries.

  • libsrclowns

    A view of the Dem Con vention:

    First we hear the Faux Indian and plagerizer from Harvard, Elizabeth Warren, denounce the miserable conditions in America today….the kind of speech you would have expected four years ago, running against the Republicans. She has no recognition whatsoever that the current conditions are the result of, and they’re on the watch of, the Obama administration.

    And then we have Clinton, the serial adulterer and abuser of women, say , “I believe that no other president could have done this or done any better than this, or quicker.”

    Done any better???

    23 million unemployed

    43 straight months of 8+% unemployment

    45 million on food stamps

    Black poverty at record highs

    The middle class has lost 33% of its net worth under Obama

    Black youth unemployment over 50%

    Hispanic unemployment at 10.3%

    Illegals due to receive roughly $7.4 billion through Obama’s Additional Child Tax Credit. 

    Food prices up 15% under Obama

    Gas prices doubled under Obama

    Obama has the worst job creation record since 1945 

    Obama recovery the worst in 75 years

    Median household income $4,300 declines under Obama

    Average family health insurance up $1,500 under Obama

    Added $6 trillion to our debt…more than all Prezs. Combined

    Presided over only US credit downgrade

    Over 100 million people on some form of means tested welfare

    Obama is an Epic Fail and no amount of Clinton puffery will change that.