A winning Republican ticket -- here's how and why:
The political pendulum still swings toward the Democrats as the '08 election approaches, favoring the candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. All three of the top-tier Republican candidates -- Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain -- fall short within the spectrum of conservative voters, to say nothing of the electorate as a whole. Those in the second tier -- Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, etc., are seen as not ready for prime time.
With these dynamics in mind, as well as his own health, Dick Cheney resigns. President Bush appoints Condi Rice to succeed Cheney, which isn't such a stretch because as Secretary of State she's next in the line of succession after Speaker of the House (mental note: check with Al Haig about that). Likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney picks Rice as his running mate, citing the fact she's vice president anyway.
Rice's presence on the Republican ticket undercuts two core Democratic constituencies -- women and blacks -- in a year with a Dem ticket of Clinton-Obama.
Skeptics will counter that Rice doesn't want to be president, nor presumably, vice president. This is true to some extent, at least from what I've read and heard.
But anyone who doubts that Rice is ambitious hasn't been paying attention. And while Rice is not now seeking higher office, something tells me her disdain for that is exceeded by her opposition to Hillary Clinton getting elected president.