As the pressure rises from liberals on presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden to announce a black woman as his running mate, eyes have turned to longtime Washington insider Susan Rice, after she reportedly landed a spot on the former vice president’s shortlist.
Here are five things to know about Biden’s possible vice presidential contender:
She’s been in the political sphere since childhood.
Rice was born in Washington, D.C., to an education policy scholar, Lois Rice, and the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System, Emmett Rice. Growing up, Rice dreamed of becoming the first senator from Washington, D.C., and has said her parents taught her to “never use race as an excuse or advantage.”
After attending Stanford, she studied international relations on a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, before later advising three presidential campaigns and serving in two administrations.
She has a strong foreign policy background.
Rice served as a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election, to John Kerry in his 2004 campaign and to former president Barack Obama. She served in the Clinton administration in various capacities, first on the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997 and then as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1997 to 2001. Since 2002 she has served as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution focusing on foreign policy.
In 2008, Rice was nominated by Obama to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and became national security adviser in 2013.
Rice was central to the controversy surrounding the 2012 attack on Benghazi.
In 2012, then-UN Ambassador Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning political talk shows on Sept. 16, 2012, five days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four American soldiers. She appeared in place of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House’s request. Rice recited “talking points” from a CIA memo and said the attacks were spontaneous and the result of an anti-Muslim video made by an American. This theory was later debunked.
Rice’s statements lead to weeks of vague comments by the administration, which would not definitively say if the attacks were spontaneous or planned, or an act of terrorism or not. The vagueness fueled critics who alleged the administration was orchestrating a cover-up.
Rice, in her new book, expressed regret for talking to the media in place of Clinton and the then-national security adviser: “I do believe that Hillary Clinton and Tom Donilon appreciated what I did not: The first person to tell the public about a highly political tragedy was likely to pay a price.”
Her role in the unmasking of Michael Flynn has been subject to scrutiny.
A Rice pick may is sure to antagonize Biden’s political opponents after the former national security adviser again found herself in the midst of a controversy for her 2017 comments denying knowledge of surveillance on the Trump team before he took office.
Rice was asked about the then-breaking revelations about members of Trump’s transition team having been surveilled before he took office.
“I know nothing about this,” Rice said at the time. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
But weeks later on MSNBC, she admitted she sometimes sought out the identities of Trump associates who communicated with foreigners, a request known as “unmasking” in the intelligence community.
An email released in May appeared to indicate Rice had knowledge of the surveillance that took place that led to the “unmasking” of then-incoming national security adviser (NSA) Michael Flynn from his communications with the then-Russian ambassador.
She recently suggested Russians could be playing a part in George Floyd protests.
While some Democrats suggested that “white supremacists” or “out-of-state agitators” had a role to play in the violence and looting present at some protests following the death of George Floyd, in an interview on May 31, Rice bizarrely suggested that Russians could be at play.
“We have peaceful protesters focused on the very real pain and disparities that we’re all wrestling with that have to be addressed, and then we have extremists who’ve come to try to hijack those protests and turn them into something very different,” Rice said on CNN. “And they’re probably also, I would bet based on my experience, I’m not reading the intelligence these days, but based on my experience this is right out of the Russian playbook as well.
“I would not be surprised to learn that they have fomented some of these extremists on both sides using social media,” she continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they are funding it in some way, shape, or form.”
Even left-of-center commentators were bewildered by Rice’s claim, which was not supported by any evidence.