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Antonia Felix: Author of Rice biography

Author Antonia Felix
Author Antonia Felix

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- CNN's Martin Savidge talked with Antonia Felix, the author of "Condi: Biography of Condoleezza Rice." The book looks at President Bush's national security adviser, who has been called the most influential woman in Washington.

MARTIN SAVIDGE: Whose idea was this? I mean, did you go to her? Did she come to you? And I presume it's all on the record as far as she wanted this written.

ANTONIA FELIX: Well, as a matter of fact, the publisher, New Market Press, and I had talked about doing a book on Condoleezza Rice because after she was named security adviser, no one it seemed really knew very much about this woman. And we figured that a lot of other people across the country were just as curious as we. We figured it certainly deserved a full by biographical treatment.

So, our first stop, of course, was to contact her press secretary, and unfortunately, we were told that Dr. Rice's schedule wasn't going to permit collaborating on a book at this time. But she was generous enough to give us some photographs from her family album that she allowed us to reprint in our book, and we're happy about that.

SAVIDGE: Well, let me ask you. What's she like? Does she let her hair down? Doe she go out and party with the girls? Is she very sedate? Is she funny? What's the person behind her?

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice

FELIX: Well, in the job she has now, of course, it's a 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. type of situation, and she probably doesn't have enough energy to go out dancing the night away very often. But the time she does really let her hair down is when she's watching football. As a lot of people know already, she's a really obsessed, fanatical football fan. You wouldn't think that looking at her there playing some beautiful Brahms on her Steinway piano.

SAVIDGE: No, you wouldn't.

FELIX: But she watches football as much as she can in her spare time. And I was very surprised to find out that the depths of this obsession with her even led into her romantic life. When she was dating in college at the University of Denver, she liked to date professional football players. That had been a goal of hers since she was a little girl.

SAVIDGE: Interesting. Well, obviously now, what many people want to know is, what influence does she have with President Bush? Does she talk to him regularly? And how is their interaction with one another?

FELIX: Well, not only regularly, but among all of the advisers, all of those people in the West Wing, she has the most time. She has the president's ear most often. She is absolutely his closest confidante, his main adviser.

They hit it off very well since the first time they met back in Texas when he was just starting to consider his run for the presidency. They had some things in common, especially their love for sports and their self-discipline towards personal fitness. You know, the president runs every morning, and Condoleezza Rice is very committed to her personal fitness program.

So, they've both grown up as jocks, and that was one of the first things that they talked about, and one of the things that really brings them together on a personal level.

SAVIDGE: If you had to summarize, say, with one definition of the thing that makes her great, what would you say?

FELIX: I would say the thing that makes her great is the parenting she had, first of all. John and Angelina Rice were both educators, both high school teachers. Her dad was also a Presbyterian minister. And from day one -- Condi was their only child, and they gave her as much extracurricular attention with all of the lessons they started her out on from a very early age to give her the most opportunity as possible so that she'd be able to not feel any type of limitations growing up.

And having grown up in Birmingham in the 1960s, that was no easy feat, and they did a fabulous job with her. She was brought up to think that the sky is the limit, there's nothing she can't do, and it looks like it really worked.



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