Immigration reform will be key to winning former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's support in the 2016 presidential race, putting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) near the top of the list, she said in an interview published Thursday.
"One of the things I will be looking for [in 2016] is somebody who understands the importance of immigration to this country and the importance of immigration reform," she said in an interview with OZY.
Rice served under President George W. Bush during his push for immigration reform, and has since been vocal about her support for changing the immigration system. She is a member of a bipartisan group urging immigration reform that includes legal status for undocumented immigrants -- one of the most contentious aspects as House Republicans consider whether to move forward with reform.
Rubio was a co-author of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate last year, while Bush has long argued for reform. Rice described both of them as "fantastic." Bush is a friend, and she has "great respect for Rubio," along with liking his immigration stance, she said.
"What I love about the way Marco Rubio talks about our country, or Jeb Bush for that matter, is that sense that 'We the People' is an inclusive concept," she told OZY. "It's not 'those people out there' and 'We the People in here.' We've always been able to continually expand that concept by welcoming the best and the brightest from all over the world to be a part of our great national aspiration."
Watch the full interview here.
Rice also spoke about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was one of the biggest opponents of immigration reform in the Senate. "I will talk to Ted Cruz about immigration because I admire him," she said.
“While I don’t agree with Ted Cruz on everything, he’s energetic, he’s working hard, he loves his country and from time to time when I disagree, I'll tell him," she said.
Rice did rule out supporting one presidential candidate: fellow former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a potential Democratic nominee. Although they're part of the "small club" of living secretaries of state, Rice said Clinton won't get her vote.
"I'm a committed Republican," Rice told OZY. "I'll continue to fight for that party, and I'll fight for that nominee."