msnbc | August 29, 2012
>> upper middle class who think the benefits will come to them and basically ignore the bottom half of this country and i think that's not uniting the country.
>> chris, we'll go to nbc's andrea mitchell on the convention floor with former secretary of state condoleezza rice . andrea .
>> thanks so much, rachel. condoleezza rice , let's talk about the role of national security . this was the first time we've really heard about national security , yet, america is has two wars, the two longest wars, and, frankly, it's the wars that were ordered by a republican president under your watch.
>> well, they were wars, first of all, against afghanistan because we were attacked on 9/11 and because saddam hussein had been a longtime threat in the middle east and, yes, iraq that war is over . the iraqis are struggling, but they at least are rid of saddam hussein . they have a democratic institution so they're trying to make work. we need to try to help them, and so what we talked about here tonight is the role of america in the world. there are many other elements that are breaking syria, the situation with iran, but american strength begins at home and that's really the message i wanted to send.
>> the obama administration could argue that there is a secretary of state whom you have said you admire, osama bin laden has been killed. al qaeda has been seriously damaged and downgraded. the arab spring has led to freedoms never before experienced, all over the region. why shouldn't barack obama be re-elected on the basis of a foreign policy record?
>> well, first of all, we can argue about the successes of one administration or another. let's remember that much of the machinery that was put in place to kill osama bin laden , to deal with al qaeda was put in place after the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it's really a victory for two administrations we did so well against al qaeda but the core of american strength is our economic strength and not borrow money we can't afford to pay back, the core of american strength is to speak loudly about what we want to see in the world for free markets and free peoples, to advocate for free trade and so the case here is that this is a ticket, paul ryan and mitt romney that will bring those strengths, because they understand the nature of american exceptionalism .
>> what advice do you have for mitt romney as to whether we should take military action against iran either now or after november?
>> well, this is a question that really can't be answered by someone who's running for president. this is a question that only the current president of the united states can answer, and we will only have one president at a time. and so i really believe that candidates need to talk about their principles, talk about the decisions, the basis on which they will make decisions, talk about the strengths of the united states in terms of our values, in terms of our economy, in terms of our sense of who we are because no one can really know what the circumstances are going to look like on january 21st . you have just to have confidence in the decision-making skills of the person in the oval office that day.
>> dr. rice, in your speech tonight --
>> andrea , can i ask a question? it's chris matthews .
>> yes, chris.
>> andrea , could you ask the secretary, the speech was so overwhelming and powerful, was it kind of a rejoinder to the birtherism that she's heard in her party?
>> your speech, chris matthews is saying, was so powerful. was that a rejoiner to the birtherism that's being heard in the republican party ?
>> well, i think on both sides of the aisle, frankly, we're hearing some voices for america to pull back, and it would be a shame if america pulls back because we've done so much good in the world. i did want to send a message that we have broad responsibilities to the world but broad responsibilities here at home too to educate our people, to continue to welcome immigrants, and so that was the theme of the speech, and i had a great audience, it was well received.
>> you said in your speech, dr. rice, that a child born in the most segregated large city in the south whose parents could not get you a hamburger at woolworth's taught you could be anything you wanted to be including president of the united states and, of course, secretary of state. you said specifically president of the united states . i know you've said you had no political ambitions, but that was a noticeable aspirational comment.
>> i said it many times. i thought my father thought i would be president of the united states . i think he would have been satisfied with secretary of state. to serve my country as the nation's chief diplomat at a time of peril and consequence, that was enough. i'll go back and be a happy stanford faculty member and obviously i'll do what i can to help this ticket, but my life is in palo alto , my future is with my students in stanford and public issues i care about like education reform .
>> do you feel that there has been a very troubling question of race and of prejudice in this campaign by the birther movement and those who espouse it?
>> i think the birther movement is an extreme, and there are extremes on both sides of the political spectrum . the great majority of people here i think the great majority in the people in the united states of america believe we are one america . we're not an america that is driven by race although obviously race is still a factor in our lives, but the biggest place it is a factor is for minority kids trapped in failing neighborhood schools.
>> you said that is the civil rights movement of our era.
>> that's the civil rights issue of our era because if you are a poor parent and you cannot get your child into a school where they'll be well educated, we are condemning that child to a life of hopelessness and so i do consider that the major civil rights issue of the day and i hope that we can address it as a country.
>> thank you very much, condoleezza rice , former secretary of state. professor and now obviously political orator.
>> thank you.
>> thank you.
>> nice to be with you.
>> and new member of augusta national .
>> that's right, and i'm really honored and looking forward to playing there in an early occasion. thank you.
>> rachel, back to you.
>> thank you, andrea . with condoleezza rice . there is a lot to chew on in that