Condoleezza Rice endorses Romney

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed Mitt Romney late Wednesday at a fundraiser in California.

"We care about the future of this country and the future of the world and I'm delighted to join so many friends here in supporting and, in my case, endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney for president of the United States," Rice said at a private dinner for 300 well-heeled donors at a sprawling estate near San Francisco. "We have to defend the country, not just from (a position of) strength and power but from a sense of values of who we are."

Guests paid from $2,500 to $50,000 to attend the event at the Hillsborough, Calif., home of Charles and Ann Johnson, which the San Francisco Chronicle called "one of America's most lavish private homes."

Romney also picked up the endorsement of another former secretary of state, George Schultz, at the dinner.

"Gov. Romney is not just going to get elected … but he is going to be a great president," Schultz said. "And we need a great president right now."

Romney called the endorsements "very humbling," and said he was "buoyed by your confidence and your commitment, not only those who have spoken, but those who spoke with checkbooks."

The high-profile show of support comes the night after Romney mathematically secured the Republican nomination for president.

Rice was the first woman to serve as White House national security adviser, a position she held during President George W. Bush's first term before becoming his secretary of state. She has been teaching political science at Stanford University since Bush left office in January 2009.

Rice has repeatedly and forcefully denied interest in being Romney's running mate. But a mid-April CNN poll found her topping the list of people Republicans want to run for vice president, with 26 percent. (Former senator and erstwhile Romney rival Rick Santorum came in at 21 percent.)

It was not immediately clear how much of a campaign role Rice would take.Romney has already unveiled a list of foreign policy advisers, but some Republicans in Washington worry that he lacks a single, high-profile surrogate to defend his approach to world affairs. President Barack Obama is expected to hammer Romney on the issue, notably citing the withdrawal from Iraq and planned draw-down from Afghanistan, as well as the killing of Osama bin Laden. Rice's predecessor at the State Department, Colin Powell, has criticized Romney's approach to foreign policy.

Update 12:00 a.m PT: This story was updated to include details of the Rice and Schultz endorsements.

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