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Condoleezza Rice Ready to Pursue President's Agenda

Condoleezza Rice, U.S. President George W. Bush's choice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State, faces Senate confirmation hearings this week. Amy Katz profiles the woman who President Bush says will be America's face to the world.

Condoleezza Rice, whom President Bush calls "Condi," has served as the President's National Security Advisor since he took office for his first term in January of 2001. She is Mr. Bush's most trusted foreign policy advisor -- something he stressed when he announced her nomination last November. "Condi Rice is already known to all Americans and to much of the world,” said the president.

He continued, “During the last four years I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And now I'm honored that she has agreed to serve in my cabinet. The Secretary of State is America's face to the world, and in Dr. Rice, the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country."

Dr. Rice says she is looking forward to pursuing what she calls the President's "ambitious agenda."

She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, during segregation in the American South. Though she originally set out to become a concert pianist, she became interested in foreign affairs and earned her doctorate degree in that field.

She has taught at Stanford University and has served as its provost, or chief financial officer. In addition to her native English, Dr. Rice speaks Russian, French and Spanish.

She is an accomplished pianist, ice skater and is well known for her love of American football. She has even said her dream job is to be the commissioner of the National Football League. She has been associated with the Bush family for some time.

She served as a Soviet expert on the National Security Council, under the first President Bush -- the current President's father. She tutored George W. Bush in foreign policy while he was running for president in 2000. Once elected, he named her to head the National Security Council, a post in which she became one of his closest advisors.

David Rothkopf, who has interviewed Dr. Rice extensively for a book he is writing on the National Security Council, says she has a much closer relationship with President Bush that the outgoing Secretary of State, Colin Powell. "She's been a loyal advisor to him [President Bush]. Colin Powell had a series of conflicts with [Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld. I think by putting Condoleezza Rice in there, he is seeking to reduce the tension within his administration.”

Mr. Rothkopf continued, “I think he is sending a message of continuity and I think he is sending a message that, you know, if you liked what you saw in the first term of the Bush administration, expect more of the same in the second term."

Charles Cushman of the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management echoes that thought. "She absolutely and utterly faithfully reflects his world view and his priorities, so there won't be that much of the tension that we've sometimes seen between issues that Colin Powell wanted to raise, and things that the White House wanted to focus on. I don't think we're going to see much of that problem at all."

Dr. Cushman says that will bring the State Department much more in line with the rest of the Bush administration. He also says he thinks Dr. Rice will face tough questions in her confirmation hearings, but will ultimately win confirmation as the next Secretary of State.