By Mackenzie Weinger and Kevin Cirilli
TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Wednesday night speech was widely praised by the media — even on MSNBC — and ignited speculation about her political future, which she promptly dampened.
"I thought Condoleezza Rice's speech was spectacular, it was thrilling, it was American," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who said the speech topped Rep. Paul Ryan's. "I thought Condoleezza Rice was presidential tonight."
MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Rice later about a passage in the speech about her parents making her believe she could be president.
"I know you've said you had no political ambitions, but that was a noticeable aspirational comment," Mitchell said.
"I think my father thought I might be president of the United States. I think he would've been satisfied with secretary of state. I'm a foreign policy person and to have a chance to serve my country as the nation's chief diplomat at a time of peril and consequence, that was enough," Rice said. "I'll go back and be a happy Stanford faculty member. And obviously I'll do what I can to help this ticket. But my life is in Palo Alto. My future is with my students at Stanford and in public service on issues that I care about like education reform."
Steve Schmidt, a GOP strategist, said on MSNBC that Rice's speech was "brilliant" and that she might receive calls to run for governor of California.
"Condoleezza Rice lives in America's most broken state, our biggest state — California — where the Republican Party has collapsed. And I guarantee you tonight, really for the first time ever, we heard Condoleezza Rice talk about domestic issues," Schmidt said. "And there are stars lining up in that California delegation tonight looking at someone who can potentially restore the Republican party to office in California. It'll be interesting to watch her over the weeks, the calls for her to run for governor."
"She's a very, very good speaker," said MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "On policy terms, it is hard to hear her talk about America being a country that is living beyond its means because she was such a high-profile member of the [President George W. Bush] administration, but her personal story and her international statements at the beginning of the speech: very powerful; very, very well received."
Mackenzie Weinger and Kevin Cirilli are reporters for POLITICO.com. POLITICO and ABC News 4 have partnered for the 2012 presidential campaign cycle.