It was just two days after President Bush's reelection in 2004, and Condoleezza Rice was planning her move back home to California and to the tranquility of life at Stanford University.
But Bush had other plans. In a private meeting at Camp David on the morning of Friday, Nov. 6, the president made his pitch: Colin Powell was out as secretary of state -- though Bush hadn't told him yet -- and the president wanted Rice to take the job.
Rice hesitated. Four years as Bush's national security adviser -- through Sept. 11 and two wars -- had taken a toll. "I think you may need a new national security team," she said.
"I do the hiring here," the president countered.
As Rice considered the offer, one question loomed large: Would she and Bush retain their unique closeness if they no longer worked daily together in the White House?
"We've been very close, down the hall," Rice reminded Bush. "I see you eight times a day, and I don't want to lose that connection."
Rice and Bush discussed the job for two hours over the next three days, and by Monday she agreed to become the nation's top diplomat.