BURLINGAME, Calif. — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that the crisis unfolding in the Ukraine was the direct result of Russian control of oil in that region of the world and emphasized that the United States needed to develop its domestic energy resources, maintain a robust military and avoid isolationism.
"I know that people are tired. I know that after more than 10 years of war and terrorism and engagement abroad, and sometimes it doesn't look like there's light at the end of the tunnel, we can think, well, we'll let someone else do it," Rice told hundreds of delegates and guests at a California Republican Party luncheon here. "But the truth of the matter is, if we leave a vacuum, it will be filled by the likes of" Syria's Bashar Assad, Russia's Vladimir Putin, terrorists in the Middle East and nationalists in China.
"That is a world that will not be good to our interests, or to our values," she said. "And so America has to lead."
Rice, currently director of the Global Center for Business and the Economy at Stanford University, appeared on the second day of the state Republican Party's semiannual convention. Her speech was well received, with multiple standing ovations. Many in the crowd had hoped she would run for governor; she has made clear to party leaders that she has no interest.
In her speech, Rice made no mention of politics in her future and avoided direct criticism of President Obama or Gov. Jerry Brown. She highlighted broad GOP themes about the founding of the nation, limited government and the rights of individuals. Her remarks calling for school choice drew the loudest praise.
"We're failing the poorest of our kids," she said. "The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child, and if a parent cannot afford a house in Palo Alto or in Fairfax County, and a parent cannot afford a private school education, don't condemn that parent and that child to a substandard education. Give that child a voucher, a charter school, a way out."
And she did get in a jab at the Cal Bears during a discussion of the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
"What in the world does the pursuit of happiness mean? I'm happy when Stanford wins football games. Sorry to Cal fans out there, but it's true," she said, laughing. "Is that what [the founders] meant? No they meant the pursuit of fulfillment, that it was up to you, the individual citizen, to know what would be fulfilling in life and the right to pursue it."