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TX Sen. Hutchison Offers Speech in Support of Condoleezza Rice

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Urging fellow senators to look to the future and not the past, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) today spoke on the U.S. Senate floor in support of U.S. Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice.

"I don't think rehashing potential mistakes that people might think have been made on the war on terrorism are something that should be brought up as a reason to vote against Condoleezza Rice," said Hutchison.

Rice, former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, was nominated by the president to serve as his Secretary of State during his second term, replacing former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rice came under heavy fire and tough questioning in a recent Senate committee confirmation hearing regarding her role in the war in Iraq and the dissemination of information regarding weapons of mass destruction that were never found and were used as the basis for the Iraqi invasion.

The senior senator from Texas admitted that some mistakes have been made in the United States' war on terror. "War is not perfect," she said, pointing out that no one could have anticipated the type of terrorism to which the United States would be subjected and the mentality of the terrorists. She said it has required a "different kind of strategy and a different kind of approach," and that the country is making those changes.

Hutchison said Rice "has kept the steady aim" and helped Bush "see all of the mine fields" in the war on terror while helping to bring the nation to support of the administration and helping "stay the course" in the war on terror. She called the stabilization of Iraq "the key point" in changing the course of events in the world.

Hutchison said Rice is "absolutely" the most qualified person to succeed Powell as Secretary of State, outlining some of the requirements of a successful candidate for the post.

The Texas senator said the position requires someone with an understanding of foreign policy, noting that Rice has a 25-year career in foreign policy while serving three presidents and serving Bush as a "key advisor" in what Hutchison called "the most tumultuous time in our lifetimes" - the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 1, 2001, while "focusing on an enemy that is a new kind of enemy."

She said a Secretary of State also should be someone who is known to both the United States and to foreign leaders. "She will not be a stranger speaking for our president," said Hutchison of Rice, because Rice is known to foreign leaders throughout the world and has strong working relationships with them. These relationships have been developed over a quarter of a century, said the Texas senator, and will be valuable assets to the nation. She also hailed Rice for her expertise in Soviet affairs, saying the Secretary of State nominee has "helped guide freedom in an emerging democracy" while "spreading the virtues of democracy" during the unification of Germany and the collapse of the Soviet Union. She said the Ronald Reagan administration "made history" with Rice in a key position. Hutchison said Rice will be a trusted advisor to the president. "There is no question the president knows her and trusts her," said the senator. "When foreign leaders talk to Condoleezza Rice, they will know she is speaking for the president."

Hutchison also praised Rice's management skills which she said will help her be effective in managing a "very large and important" department in the federal government, with offices throughout the world. Hutchison interviewed Rice for her recent book on influential women and said Rice told her that her best preparation for her job in the federal government was being provost of Stanford University, where she learned "when to persuade, when to inform and when to demand."

"If that's not a recipe for Secretary of State, I don't know what is," said Hutchison.

Hutchison called Rice "unflappable" and praised her for how she dealt with the 9/11 tragedy.

"Condoleezza Rice will be a great Secretary of State," concluded Hutchison. "She will make her mark on this position as some of the best Secretaries of State in our history have done." She said Rice will work successfully with the nation's allies to ensure a foreign policy that will be collaborative but will also protect the United States.

"I hope our colleagues will look to the future - what she can do - and not rehash things in the past for which she was not responsible," said Hutchison, urging the Senate's vote to confirm Rice as the next U.S. Secretary of State.