Rice acknowledged the nation's weariness from the two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Bush started but said, "If we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen — no one will lead and that will foster chaos — or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. ... We do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead — and one cannot lead from behind."
Republicans have seized on the words "leading from behind" that an unnamed Obama adviser used in a New Yorker article, even though the idea is to empower others while avoiding the perception of unilateral U.S. action.
Rice recalled standing at her desk the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and learning of the terrorist attacks. She made no mention of Osama bin Laden and Obama's order as commander in chief for the Navy SEALS' operation that killed the terrorist leader.
"Our friends and allies must be able to trust us," she said. "From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. ... Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands."