- Ted Cruz has confirmed that Carly Fiorina will be his running mate if he wins the nomination.
- Cruz is trying to draw attention to his campaign and away from Trump for the upcoming Indiana primary.
- Fiorina has debated many times with some of Cruz’s competing candidates and is known as an attack dog.
- Indiana is a make it or break it state for Cruz’s campaign and he’s hoping that all the help he can get just might tip him over the breaking point.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, desperate to alter the course of a presidential primary fight in which Donald J. Trump is closing in on victory, will announce Wednesday afternoon that Carly Fiorina will be his running mate if he wins the Republican nomination, two campaign advisers confirmed.
The move, a day after Mr. Trump scored unexpectedly wide victory margins in sweeping five East Coast states, amounts to the grandest diversionary tactic a presidential candidate can stage — or at least the grandest one available to a candidate trailing by about 400 delegates who failed to win more than 25 percent of the vote in any state on Tuesday.
Mr. Cruz’s decision to rush out a vice-presidential pick before next week’s primary in Indiana, which is becoming make-or-break for his candidacy, was the political equivalent of a student pulling a fire alarm to avoid an exam: It was certain to draw attention and carried the possibility of meeting its immediate goal, but seemed unlikely to forestall the eventual reckoning.
Still, for Mr. Cruz, it could serve to shift the focus away from Mr. Trump’s success and from his own wheezing alliance with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who agreed to clear out of Indiana if Mr. Cruz withdrew from competition in Oregon and New Mexico. And since endorsing Mr. Cruz last month, Mrs. Fiorina, the former presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard chief executive, has proved to be an eager surrogate, attacking both Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton with zeal.
The announcement was prompted by the same countervailing forces that pushed Mr. Cruz to strike the non-aggression pact with Mr. Kasich on Sunday: Mr. Cruz’s polling in Indiana showed him down double-digits in Indiana last week, according to two Republicans familiar with the findings. He has edged closer to Mr. Trump in nightly surveys this week but remains behind.
“If the election were held today, we’d lose but not get crushed,” said a Republican familiar with Mr. Cruz’s polling.
What is striking, though, is that Mr. Cruz decided to tap Mrs. Fiorina even after his own surveys indicated she would only offer a modest boost. In Indiana and subsequent states, Mr. Cruz’s campaign tested the impact if Mr. Cruz named Mrs. Fiorina as his running mate and found it was only worth “a couple of points,” said a Republican briefed on the polling results. “Voters like her, they don’t love her,” said this Republican, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision-making.
Yet Mr. Cruz’s gambit may present a perilous challenge for Mr. Trump, who faces mounting criticism for his derisive remarks about women, including his repeated claims that Mrs. Clinton’s sole political asset is “the woman card.”
Already viewed unfavorably by a majority of women in general election polls, Mr. Trump has clashed savagely with Mrs. Fiorina in the past. He has mocked her business record, her voice and even her looks. “Look at that face,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine last summer. “Would anyone vote for that?”
Another slashing comment directed at Mrs. Fiorina’s appearance or gender could have grave consequences for Mr. Trump, especially with female voters he would need to win over to compete in the fall.
Current and former advisers to Mr. Trump said he has long found Mrs. Fiorina an agitating presence and described her in public and private as an unworthy opponent with dubious business credentials. And Mr. Trump has repeatedly disregarded advisers who urged him to steer clear of conflict with a comparatively obscure rival, no matter how fervent his distaste for her.
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who was dismissed from the campaign last summer, said Mr. Trump’s advisers warned him that his treatment of Mrs. Fiorina would be perceived as a test of his discipline for the general election.
“We had already anticipated that there would be attacks of sexism, that there would be attacks that you don’t respect women,” Mr. Nunberg said, paraphrasing the Trump campaign’s counsel to the candidate. “This was a major test to show you can compete as a presidential candidate.”
Mr. Nunberg added, “Unfortunately, Donald failed that test miserably.”
For Mr. Cruz, the drawbacks to naming Mrs. Fiorina are many: A pick designed to change momentum in a primary could prove less than optimal for a general election. Voters might find it presumptuous for a candidate to name his prospective running mate while trailing by several hundred delegates.
Then there are the taunts from Mr. Trump. “He’s wasting his time,” the front-runner told reporters Tuesday night when asked about Mr. Cruz’s preparations for a possible selection.
In Mrs. Fiorina, Mr. Cruz has turned to a credible outsider whose political profile is consistent with Mr. Cruz’s brand and an expert attack dog who has sparred often with the senator’s rivals in both parties.
She will surely be deployed in California, where the June 7 primary could determine whether Mr. Trump captures the delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the convention. Mrs. Fiorina has statewide political experience there, having been the Republican nominee against Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. Her connections with the sort of party activists likely to vote in the primary there could give Mr. Cruz a valuable surrogate in the weeks leading up to it.
She did, however, lose her one California campaign by 10 points and has since left the state to live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Mindful of the gender gap often evident in Mr. Trump’s polling, Cruz allies hope that Mrs. Fiorina will prove a capable foil to Mr. Trump as she did while besting him in a series of debate exchanges during her own candidacy.
In recent weeks, she has again relished the role, disparaging Mr. Trump in interviews and urging him to “man up” and debate Mr. Cruz head to head. She has also shown a habit of answering questions addressed to Mr. Cruz at news conferences, interjecting to sing his praises or defend his actions.
In the past, though, Mrs. Fiorina has chafed at being described as vice presidential material. Last year, she called it “sexist” that she was often asked if she was running for president in the hopes of being chosen as someone’s running mate.
More recently, she has hedged when asked about her interest. As Mrs. Fiorina sat beside Mr. Cruz for a Fox News interview last month, the Texas senator was asked whether he would consider Mrs. Fiorina for the role. A live audience cheered, and Mrs. Fiorina answered before Mr. Cruz could.
“Let’s win the nomination first,” she said.
Mr. Cruz’s selection of Mrs. Fiorina was also reminiscent of a candidate whom he reveres. In his 1976 primary against President Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan — lagging behind and needing to change the subject — announced his choice of a running mate before the Republican convention.
The gamble paid off in the short term. His selection of Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania led the evening news, slowed the news media’s rush to declare Ford the presumptive nominee and allowed Reagan to continue wooing delegates.
But Reagan’s announcement came after the primaries had ended, not with 10 states remaining, and he was close behind Ford in the delegate count than Mr. Cruz is today to Mr. Trump. Schweiker carried the promise of winning over a clear constituency, the Pennsylvania delegation while it is unclear which voters Mrs. Fiorina could deliver.
And Reagan still lost to Ford.
Source: NY Times