Rice, 55, possesses enormous advantages: A former U.N. ambassador as well as senior advisor to Obama, the Stanford University-educated former Rhodes scholar is by all accounts brilliant and deeply experienced in foreign policy to a degree few other candidates for the job are. And at a moment when the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for social justice have gripped the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in May, Rice may rank high on Biden’s list of possibilities because she is one of the most accomplished and prominent African Americans in the Democratic Party. Rice also has had a long and close relationship with Biden, who values loyalty. This stands in stark contrast to California Sen. Kamala Harris, another leading candidate, who fiercely attacked the former vice president during the Democratic primaries on the issue of racial segregation; on Tuesday Biden was photographed holding a handwritten series of talking points about Harris that began with: “Do not hold grudges.”
But Rice also brings a lot of potential baggage, from her role in the 2012 Benghazi tragedy to a personality described by many as abrasive, a lack of political experience, and a shaky track record while helming the National Security Council (NSC).
Republicans are already threatening to revisit the ghosts of Benghazi, the Libyan city where U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012, leading to one of Rice’s worst moments in public life and years of Republican attacks. But Rice’s performance in public office has occasionally raised other issues about her suitability to be vice president that have nothing to do with Benghazi. During her time as both U.N. ambassador and national security advisor, her judgment, political experience, and temperament were sometimes called into question—even by some within her own party.