Press: Susan Rice would be ready to step in as POTUS

Picking a vice presidential running mate? Sound easy, but it’s not. In fact, Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday Biden campaign slams White House attacks on Fauci as 'disgusting' Biden lets Trump be Trump MORE today faces one of the toughest tasks of all because so many elements must factor into his decision.

For Biden, having vowed to choose a woman, the questions are: Are there any skeletons in her closet we don’t know about? Could she help deliver a key swing state? Is she a good campaigner who will excite the Democratic base and inspire people to vote? Does she appeal to independent voters? Is she someone Biden feels comfortable with? And, most importantly, does she have the kind of experience that leaves no doubt that, if anything happened to Biden, she could step into the position of president?

On that latter test, nobody has better credentials than former national security advisor Susan Rice – and this at a time when we’ve never had a greater need for leaders who understand what the federal government’s role is and how to use the combined might of agencies of government to serve the public.

ADVERTISEMENT

Which is not to say Biden doesn’t have other strong candidates. Indeed, Biden’s lucky he has such an outstanding field to choose from. In a sense, he can’t go wrong. In addition to Rice, those we know he’s considering include three U.S. senators with presidential campaign experience: Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Senators raise concerns over Facebook's civil rights audit Biden's marijuana plan is out of step with public opinion MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (Mass.), and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE (Minn.); another senator who’s a former state attorney general, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto; two governors with executive experience: Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K Governors urge Pence to promote mask-wearing Warren top choice for VP for some Black progressives MORE; a former police chief, now member of Congress from Florida, Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSusan Rice sees stock rise in Biden VP race Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP Democrats seize on Florida pandemic response ahead of general election MORE; and two local leaders: Stacey Abrams, former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives; and Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta.

Each one of them brings certain advantages to the table. Any one of them would be a good and historic pick. But none of them can match the executive and diplomatic experience of Susan Rice. She’s spent the last three decades dealing with complex policy issues, working with Congress, negotiating with foreign leaders, and carrying out the wishes of a president. She knows how government and diplomacy work. She knows how to get stuff done.

Rice’s entire life and career, in fact, has been dedicated to public service. She first served in the Clinton administration as director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping and director for African Affairs in the National Security Office and, later, unanimously confirmed by the Senate, as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. As part of her portfolio, she helped prepare America’s response to the crises in Somalia and Rwanda. After successfully dealing with the Ebola crisis, she also established, at the NSC, the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense – which Trump dismantled in 2018.

In January 2009, appointed by President Obama and, again, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rice took over as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, helping shape American foreign policy in North Korea, Iran, the Middle East, Sudan, Libya and other hot spots. Four years later, Rice was back in the White House, this time as national security advisor, playing a major role in the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accords and improved relations with Cuba.

Susan Rice also has an incredible personal story to tell. Descended from Jamaican immigrants on her mother’s side of the family and slaves from South Carolina on her father’s side, she embodies the American dream. Inspired by her parents to overcome the inherent challenges of being both a young woman and African-American, she graduated from Stanford, was named a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, the only African-American in a class of 500 at New College, Oxford, and went on to become one of the most powerful women on the world stage. Hers is a story that will inspire young voters of all races, but particularly energize the African-American community, whose enthusiastic, all-out support is essential to a Biden victory.

Coming out of the worst public health crisis and the worst economic crisis this country has ever faced, Biden will face an incredible challenge in getting America back on track. He needs somebody alongside of him who can hit the ground running. He could find no better teammate than Susan Rice.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”