TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. must continue to be the most powerful nation on Earth, and that the only way to do so is to first raise its economic standing, with Mitt Romney at the helm.
"The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances it eventually loses control of its destiny," Rice said in her address to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night. "They look to us because we are the most successful political and economic experiment in human history. That is the true basis of American exceptionalism."
Offering repeated praise for the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees, Rice said Romney and Paul Ryan will "rebuild us at home and they will help us lead abroad."
"They will provide an answer to the question, 'where does America stand?" she said. "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the integrity and the experience and the vision to lead us. They know who we are and what we we want to be."
Rice took the stage to a huge standing ovation from an audience that remained cheering even after she tried to begin her remarks. Though Rice did not mention President Barack Obama by name, she made an unmistakeable reference to his administration in saying the U.S. can never "lead from behind."
"If we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen. Either no one will lead and there will be chaos, or someone will fill the vacuum who does not share our values," Rice said. "My fellow Americans, we cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind."
The only George W. Bush cabinet member to speak at the RNC, Rice's remarks came the same night as a tribute video featuring both the younger Bush and his father.
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, the only Bush family member to attend the convention, said he was pleased with what Rice had to say.
“Loved that she attacked leading from behind, the doctrine of the Obama administration," Bush said in an email to TheBlaze.
Rice concluded her remarks by saying America "has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect."
"But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values," she said. "This will be an election of consequence. It just has to be that the freest and the most compassionate country on Earth will continue to be the most powerful."