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She is reportedly a good ice skater and a knowledgeable football fan, and she dated the Denver Broncos' Rick Upchurch while she was attending the University of Denver.

She once owned a house and shared a line of credit with another woman, Stanford co-worker and documentary filmmaker Randy Bean, although the nature of their partnership remains unknown.

Rice's office did not respond to a request for comment.

She skipped first and seventh grades, entered college at 15, holds three degrees including a doctorate in political science, and earned her Master's in just one year's study.

She was a professor of Political Science at Stanford from 1981-99, and from 1993-99 she was also Stanford's provost, responsible for overseeing the school's budget and academic programs.

"Rice's speech at the 2012 Republican convention "really opened up a whole new vein of blood for her, in terms of people saying this is an important and powerful voice in the Republican Party,'' says GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.

But Rice has described herself as "mildly pro-choice,'' and that would be a tough sell with Republican primary voters, Conway says.

She says she became a Republican when she watched the 1984 Democratic Convention on TV, and decided that the Democrats' appeals to "women, minorities, and the poor" really meant "helpless people and the poor".

Rice said, "I decided I'd rather be ignored than patronized." Her parents were both college professors.

Bush as "my husband" before abruptly correcting herself.

She was on the Board of Directors at the Chevron Corporation, where an oil tanker was named in her honor.

Others have sparked more speculation based on less.

One trip to Iowa or New Hampshire and she'd be at the top of the list of potential presidential candidates.

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