The Iron Lady

Rice wows with substantive defense of American Exceptionalism in RNC speech

August 30, 2012

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered an impassioned defense of American exceptionalism Wednesday, in what was arguably the best received address of the Republican National Convention thus far.

Burnishing her foreign policy bona fides, Rice criticized President Obama’s failure to lead assertively on the world stage.

"We cannot be reluctant to lead—and one cannot lead from behind," she said. "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality—that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked. They know what needs to be done."

America must remain a powerful force in the world, she argued, because "peace really does come through strength."

The speech also touched on domestic issues like immigration, education—which she called "the civil rights issue of our day"— and the economy.

"When the world looks at us today they see an American government that cannot live within its means," she said. "The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny. That is not the America that has inspired others to follow our lead."

A Romney-Ryan administration, she said, would "rebuild the foundation of American strength—our economy—stimulating private sector led growth and small business entrepreneurship."

Rice closed out her rousing oration with what might go down as the most powerful moment of the convention when she recounted her childhood growing up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., and how only in America could she have risen so far from such dire circumstances.

"A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham, the most segregated big city in America," she said. "Her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant, 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 the Secretary of State."