TAMPA, Fla. (CBS News / AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, currently a professor at Stanford University, said Wednesday evening that it’s time to change leadership in the White House in order to restore American leadership on the world stage.

The former George W. Bush administration cabinet official spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where Mitt Romney was set to formally accept the Republican presidential nomination the following night.

“A President Romney would understand American exceptionalism,” she said, and “would not be afraid to lead from in front.”

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Rice, in her speech did not mention President Barack Obama by name, but she maintained that America’s position as the most successful political and economic experiment in history was in danger today.

She spoke of the crisis in education and asked for immigration laws that protect the country’s borders while meeting economic needs.

She said there was a sense that America has for too long carried the burdens of supporting free people and free markets, but noted that if the United States does not lead – then no one will lead, fostering chaos.

“There is no doubt the United States’ voice has been muted,” Rice told CBS News in an interview ahead of her speech, adding: “When the United States’ voice is muted, the world is a more dangerous place.”

At a time when Syria is “butchering” its people and Iran is aiding, Rice said, the United States should stop relying on the United Nations Security Council to act.

“No one says we should be treating Syria as if it needs American boots on the ground,” Rice said, but there should be a “clear message that gets over the objections of the Russians and the Chinese. When the United States says Assad must go and then nothing happens to make Assad go, the U.S. has a credibility problem.”

Rice said the U.S. should “leave the Security Council aside” and instead work on arming the Syrian opposition in a way that is in accordance with a political plan. Under President Obama, she said, there’s no evidence that’s happening.

(© 2012 CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved.)

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