(CNN) - In a week when Herman Cain said he was “not supposed to know anything about foreign policy,” the most recent Republican secretary of state said candidates needed to at least to have a symbolic interest in America’s foreign affairs.
“First of all, a potential president has to know the role of the United States of America and that it's an exceptional role, that we have, in fact, been willing to bear a lot of burdens over the last 60 plus years in order to promote a balance of power favor that favors freedom,” Condoleezza Rice said in an interview airing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Candidates did not have to know every tiny detail of foreign policy, but they did need to present themselves as interested and engaged, Rice said.
“I would say to the candidates, yes, you don't have to know the ins and outs of foreign policy because nobody would expect that kind of exposure,” Rice said. “But the basis of foreign policy, you can master those during the campaign. And it's important for the American people to know that you care enough about these issues to do that.”
As for promises from the candidates about how they’d handle America’s engagement in Afghanistan, Rice said she listens with the knowledge that things might change.
“It's not surprising that people are trying to find an end in sight,” Rice said. “But I don't listen all that closely, on the campaign trail, to ‘I will do this and I will do that,’ because the day you arrive in the Oval Office, it looks different.”
On Hamid Karzai, Rice said America’s only choice was to work with him, despite recent comments that suggest the Afghan president would side with Pakistan in a potential conflict with the United States.
“We have no option but to work with him as the elected president of Afghanistan,” Rice said. “We have no option but to try and work with the elected government of Pakistan. But the thing that really is the problem here is the extremism in Pakistan, and, I think, a rather head in the sand approach by the Pakistani government to what's going on around them.”
As for the possibility of another stint in the cabinet of a Republican president, Rice said she’s happy being a member of the faculty at Stanford University.
“I am a happy university professor,” Rice said. “I'm going to remain one. I will be very happy to give somebody my e-mail and my phone number and California is not that far away for a phone call.”
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