Condoleezza Rice Appears on “The Tonight Show”

By Dotcomabc

Mar 24, 2009 11:53pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia reports: In her first television appearance since leaving Foggy Bottom, Condoleezza Rice appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno this evening.

The former secretary of state chose to withhold judgment on the job her successor has done, siding with former President Bush who has said he would not judge the Obama administration in public.

"These are difficult questions and difficult issues.  My view is, we got to do it our way; we did our best.  We did some things well, some things not so well.  Now, they get their chance," Rice said.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be of a different mind, having recently blasted the Obama administration for making decisions he says have made America less safe.

"We owe them our loyalty and our silence while they do it," Rice told Leno. "Because I know what it’s like to have people chirping at you when they perhaps don’t know what’s going on inside.  These are quality people.  I know them.  They love the country.  And they won’t make the same decisions, perhaps, that we did.  But I believe they’ll do what they think is best for the country and I’ll give my advice privately and keep it to myself."

Rice did, however, make one thing clear. She does not miss her old job.

"I am so happy to get up in the morning, read the newspaper and not think I have to do anything about what’s in it," she said.

Rice also defended her former boss from some of the criticism levied against him.

In an apparent rebuttal of statement from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the only cabinet member who also served under President Bush. Gates said on NBC’s Meet the Press that Obama "is somewhat more analytical" and "makes sure he hears from everybody in the room on an issue."

"I saw many a cabinet secretary go in and have the president be the best questioner in the room.  This was a president who was compassionate; he knew the issues," Rice said.

However, Gates said Bush was "interested in hearing different points of views, but didn’t go out of his way to make sure that everybody spoke if they hadn’t spoken up before."

Rice said history will judge President Bush’s tenure more favorably than would recent polls.

"I’m also a firm believer that history has a long arc, and what is popular today and today’s headlines are rarely the same as history’s judgments.  So I think we’ll let history judge and I think he’ll be judged well by history," Rice said of Bush’s legacy.

She declined to opine on the decision by her predecessor, Colin Powell, to endorse President Obama during last year’s campaign.

"Colin’s a good friend and I think he felt strongly that Barack Obama was the right person for the presidency at this time and I’m glad he did what he thought best," she said.

As she has in the past Rice declined to reveal whether she voted for President Obama.

"That’s why they have a secret ballot, Jay," she said.

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