RICE: BUSH'S SECRETARY OF STATE?

RICE: BUSH'S SECRETARY OF STATE?

If Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins the Republican Presidential nomination and then also captures the presidency, it is likely that he will name Condoleezza Rice as either his secretary of state or his national security adviser.

Among other effects, the appointment would bring smiles to the faces of foreign policy officials in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei who have felt slighted by the Clinton administration's fascination with China. Not only is Rice brilliant and young (44), she is a black woman. It is still early in the campaign to be talking about filling cabinet posts, but candidate Bush has made no secret that he is a bit concerned about his image in foreign policy.

His Nov. 20 speech helped to bolster confidence after an earlier embarrassment when he could not name three of four foreign leaders in response to a reporter's question.

A bevy of foreign policy advisers, including Rice, prepped Bush for the latest speech and it showed.

The candidate said the United States should regard China as a competitor, not a strategic partner.

The United States should show strong support for its Asian friends and allies, Bush said. ''This means keeping our pledge to deter aggression against the Republic of Korea and strengthening security ties with Japan. This means expanding theater missile defenses among allies.''

Bush also said, ''Never again should an American President spend nine days in China and not even bother to stop in Tokyo or Seoul or Manila.''

Bush said the World Trade Organization should open its doors to Taiwan as well as China. ''We will help Taiwan defend itself,'' he said in what is likely to be the most controversial remark of the speech.

Bush's speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., was no accident. He was introduced there by George Shultz, who served as Secretary of State under Reagan and Bush's father. Shultz, now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, has been a key backer of Rice during her administrative career at Stanford University, preceded by a stint on former President Bush's national security staff.

Other current advisers to the son from the father's presidential team are Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Zoellick and Richard Armitage. Wolfowitz, a former ambassador to Indonesia and assistant secretary of defense, is tipped to get whichever of the top two foreign policy jobs is not offered to Rice, who stepped down as provost at Stanford in June after six years as the university's No. 2 official.

Rice said we must be mindful of ''the importance of values and moral content in American foreign policy'' - but without talking so loudly about those values that we produce an international backlash against American arrogance.

''The real challenge of the future is to build democratic values in multi-ethnic societies. The value that people who are different can live together . . . and prosper,'' she believes, ''is perhaps the most important American value.''

Rice grew up in a middle-class black Birmingham, Ala., family. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and university administrator; her mother was a teacher.

One of her favorite themes is that the United States ''has got to figure out what it's going to do with its military dominance. We can too easily become the world's 911 number. We have immense military power and no clear sense of how to use it.''