She is the first African-American woman to become the U.S. secretary of state. She advises the leader of the world's largest superpower and has an unparalleled level of trust with and access to the president. And she has served two other U.S. presidents, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. For all of these reasons, and more, Rice, 50, is the most powerful woman in the world.
After a four-year role as national security adviser, Rice assumed the mantle of secretary of state in January. Rice has played a key, behind-the-scenes role in all of President George W. Bush's major decisions. "During the last four years, I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment, " the president said when announcing Rice's promotion. Bush needs her now more than ever, as his approval ratings and credibility sag, his domestic agenda is stalled, and the country grows more bitterly divided over the war in Iraq.
With her steely nerve and delicate manners (she has been called the "Warrior Princess"), Rice lately has reinvigorated her position with diplomatic activism, whether it's promoting Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to ease the Palestinian conflict, or encouraging six-party talks to get North Korea to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, or trying to stop Sudan's genocideto the point where her diplomatic party was recently roughed up by Sudan's strongmen. Rice also has close relationships with world leaders, having accompanied the president on numerous trips to Europe and Iraq. Rice has visited 31 countries and logged in over 119, 000 miles by midyear. An unofficial Web site proclaims, "Condoleezza Rice for President 2008, " which might be a long-shot idea. But a run by Rice for the presidency would make history in the U.S.