Condoleezza Rice, the former Bush administration secretary of state, has emerged as a top vice presidential contender as Republican Mitt Romney considers his running mate options, according to a report that had the political world buzzing Friday.

The speculation, which appeared on the Drudge Report website Thursday night, comes as Romney reportedly has narrowed his field of VP candidates to a handful. Drudge reported that the announcement would be made in "coming weeks," and previous reports have suggested that the Romney campaign is considering naming a vice president well ahead of late August's Republican National Convention in Tampa as the GOP looks to unseat President Obama.

Right-wing pundits were quick to embrace the possibility of a Romney-Rice ticket. Former Reagan administration speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed posted online Thursday, said picking Rice "would have a certain boldness," while former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, appearing on Fox's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" on Thursday night, said she believes Rice would make a "wonderful" vice president.

Rice had not denied the speculation as of Friday morning, though in an appearance on Fox's "Fox and Friends" in March, she downplayed speculation that she might be tabbed as Romney's second-in-command.

"[The Republican Party] is going to have a lot of great candidates for vice president," Rice said in that interview. "That's not my strong suit. I love policy, not politics. But they'll find the right person."

If selected, Rice, 57, would present voters with a black woman at the top of the ticket, targeting two of the Democrats' most loyal voting blocs, and would add her considerable foreign policy credentials to Romney's business background.

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Besides serving as secretary of state during George W. Bush's second term, Rice was the 43rd president's national security adviser and was an adviser on European affairs.

Since Bush left office in 2009, Rice has taught political economics at Stanford University and published a memoir about her years in the White House.

She resurfaced in political circles in late May when she endorsed Romney for president. And last month, Rice delivered a well-received speech at a Utah fundraiser for Romney.

Helping fuel speculation of Rice's nomination was Romney's wife, Ann, who said the former Massachusetts governor was considering nominating a woman for the role, a claim her husband's campaign would not confirm nor deny.

Other potential vice presidential candidates whose names have surfaced have included Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.