Upon learning of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) selection of Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) as his running mate, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Biden “is obviously a very fine statesman,” and called him a “true, true patriot.” In yesterday’s White House press conference, Assistant Press Secretary Tony Fratto was asked if President Bush agreed with Rice’s assessment. Fratto demurred but said Rice, herself, would be voting for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
FRATTO: Obviously — let me just say this — I mean, for Senator Biden to be selected to run on his party’s ticket for Vice President is a great honor. … As for Secretary Rice, I think Secretary Rice has made clear who she intends to vote for, and that will be Senator McCain and whomever he chooses to join him on the ticket.
It’s not at all clear, however, who Rice intends to vote for. As recently as August 17 on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked which candidate Rice is supporting for president. Rice would only say that she considers herself a Republican and that she would make her choice “at the ballot box”:
WALLACE: And finally, Secretary Rice, do you support John McCain over Barack Obama for president?
RICE: Look, I’m the secretary of state, and as secretary of state, I think it’s a tradition that I’ll take a nonpartisan role here.
Everybody knows that I’m a Republican. Everybody also knows that I have great respect for our — for our political system, for the choices the American people will make. And as an American, will make my choice, like all Americans, at the ballot box.