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Condoleezza Rice returns to spotlight for fundraiser

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at the ShePAC fundraising event in Washington, D.C., June 25.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at the ShePAC fundraising event in Washington, D.C., June 25.Alex Moe / NBC News

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stepped back into the political spotlight Monday night as she headlined her first ever fundraiser in the nation’s capital.

“I am a great optimist,” Rice told attendees, referring to being able to get the country back on track again. She was speaking at an event to raise money for Republican female politicians.

"A little girl grows up in Birmingham, Alabama,” Rice said, noting that her parents were convinced she “could be President of the United States if she wants to be.”

"America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect and we are going to do it again,” Rice said. “We are going to strengthen ourselves, our democracy at home, strengthen our economy.”

Rice, who is currently a professor at Stanford University in California, is viewed as a dark horse choice for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate.

While she did not address anything related to Romney’s choice for VP in front of the few journalists – nor did she refer to her raved-about speech from Romney’s weekend retreat in Utah – some in attendance hope she is strongly considered for the position.

“It would be great to have a women vice president,” Amanda Abshire of Arlington, Va. said, mentioning she was “inspired” by Rice’s speech tonight. “I think she has the experience and has the respect of the Republican Party and that the core conservatives would support her. It would be such an awesome thing for conservative women too.”

ShePAC – the political action committee Supporting, Honoring & Electing Republican women – hosted the “DC Kickoff Reception” at the Capitol Hill Club and included nearly a dozen sitting female GOP Congress members and candidates from around the country.

Prior to addressing the general reception for which guests paid $1,000 to hear Rice speak – during which guests munched on a variety of cheeses, meats, and watermelon soup – Rice spent nearly 30 minutes talking with the elected officials and candidates, focusing on national security issues.

Rice, a top-ranked official in President George W. Bush’s administration, mentioned Romney just once in her remarks, saying he would be “a terrific president" – she even weighed in slightly to the on-going immigration debate.

"We need an immigration policy that works but, by the way, we need one that the Congress and the President work out together," Rice said.

Wrapping up her roughly 10-minute speech just feet away from the House office buildings, Rice encouraged the mostly female crowd to keep fighting for America.

“It just has to be that the freest and most compassionate and most generous country on the face of the earth has to continue to be the most powerful,” she said.

Rice remains in Washington Tuesday, where she will give opening remarks at the National Women's Hall of Fame event celebrating 40 years of Title IX.

Attendees Monday night included: Senate Candidates Deb Fischer (NE), Heather Wilson (NM), Sarah Steelman (MO), House Candidates Martha Zoller (GA), Lisa Wilson-Foley (CT), Karen Harrington (FL), Wendy Rogers (AZ), Kim Vann (CA), Nancy Jacobs (MD), Faith Loudon (MD), Leah Campos-Schandlbauer (AZ), Maria Sheffield (GA) and representing his wife Mayor Mia Love (UT), Jason Love. Current Congresswomen included: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Rep. Sandy Adams (FL), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rep. Judy Biggert (IL), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).