Former secretary of state, KiOR board member Condoleeza Rice visits Mississippi

Condoleeza Rice

Former secretary of state and national security adviser Dr. Condoleeza Rice stopped at Mississippi College yesterday to visit with students and attend a fundraising dinner.

The nation’s chief diplomat under President George W. Bush talked about her early interest and work on Soviet-American relations and the complex relationship the U.S. maintained with Russia following the Cold War.

Rice compared and contrasted the leadership styles of both Presidents Bush saying that George H.W. was always full of humility and that his son had that Texas swagger that the country needed in a leader following 9/11.

Rice on education: “Whenever you think about a country and its power and how its going to exercise that power you begin with the domestic strengths. The latter half of the 20th century has all been about human potential, your capacity to get the best and smartest people and train them and give them opportunity.

“What we are going to end up with is people who not only can’t contribute creatively but they’re not going to have jobs- and they’re going to end up on the dole because they aren’t going to have anywhere else to go.”

Immigration: “I know that immigration is a touchy subject but I fear that we are undermining one of our great strengths as a country. The United States of America has attracted some of the smartest most ambitious people from all over the world for generations. That’s why we have all of those hyphenated names… For generations people have come to be a part of that.

I understand the frustration that we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform. I believe in defending our laws and defending our borders but we should never do it in a way that keeps the best and the brightest and the most ambitious people from coming here. It can be the guy who came here to make $5 not 50 cents or a person like Sergey Brin from Russia who founds Google. We better be careful that we don’t start turning immigrants into the enemy.”

Dr. Rice, who sits on the board of Mississippi’s newest biofuels industry KiOR, had plenty to say on manufacturing as well.

“Some countries, like the Chinese, have an industrial policy, and that is a challenge because the Chinese are even starting to favor national champions in ways that we would not have thought even a number of years ago,” she said.

Rice outlined three things that the U.S. could do to improve the manufacturing sector including having more business friendly tax and regulatory policies, better high skills jobs training and more competition among states.

“You don’t have a border on the United States for capital,” Rice said. “It can go other places.”

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

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