Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:50 PM By: Ronald Kessler Despite saying she wants to return to Stanford University, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has let it be known in Republican circles that she would consider running for vice president if asked. One source told Newsmax that she expressed interest in the possibility when Rudy Giuliani was running for president. Another source said she has more recently let her interest be known discreetly within top Republican circles, presumably including John McCain’s camp. Fueling speculation that she would consider being on the ticket, Rice appeared for the first time this week at the so-called Wednesday meeting run by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Rice spoke for 20 minutes at the off-the-record meeting of conservative leaders, then took questions for 20 minutes. Presidential candidates, White House aides, Cabinet officers, and members of Congress routinely speak to the group, but the talks generally are far shorter. In her talk, Rice stuck to foreign policy. When asked about her future, she said she plans to teach at Stanford, where she was once provost, and she plans to write a book. Asked for comment, an aide to Rice said it was “not true” that she has expressed interest in a run and pointed to what she said at the Wednesday meeting about intending to return to Stanford. “No one can accurately say she was encouraging it or that she expressed interest, as your two sources apparently told you,” the aide said. “That is wrong. Her answer [about being interested in running for vice president] was clearly and unambiguously negative.” In general, possible vice presidential candidates never want to appear to be running for the job. What Rice has done is make it clear she would not shut the door on a possible candidacy. “She would be a good vice presidential candidate because she would be a good president,” Norquist commented to Newsmax. While conservatives generally like the idea of her running on a ticket with McCain, their only concern is her stand on abortion. In a 2005 interview with The Washington Times, Rice described herself as “mildly pro-choice” and a libertarian on the abortion issue. “I’m a strong proponent of parental choice, of parental notification,” Rice said then. “I’m a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people, and I think that that’s where we should be.” Rice said she is “very comfortable with the president’s view that we have to respect and need to have a culture that respects life. This should be an issue pretty infrequently because we ought to have a culture that says Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or, you know, a sibling go through something like that?” Rice then said that we “have to respect the culture of life, and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible.” She went on to say that she does not think the federal government should be “forcing its views on one side or the other. So, for instance, I’ve tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund it.” When the interviewer said it sounds as if she does not want to change the laws on abortion, Rice responded, “Well, I don’t spend my entire life thinking about these issues. You know, I spend my time really thinking about the foreign policy issues. But you know that I’m a deeply religious person and so, from my point of view, these extremely difficult moral issues where we have — where we’re facing issues with technology and the prolongation of life and the fact that very, very young babies are able to survive now . . . very small babies are able to survive . . . these are great moral issues.” “I’m a minister’s daughter,” Rice once told me. “I [pray] 10 times a day. It’s the most natural thing in the world. Sometimes, I pray out loud when alone. I’ll say a quick prayer on my way to play piano.” Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com.