Seeking to build a bulkhead against Donald Trump's orange-hued rising tied, Ted Cruz took the unusual step of naming a running mate without being within even sniffing distance of the Republican presidential nomination. Trump won five primaries Tuesday night, edging closer to claiming the title of presumptive GOP nominee. Cruz got walloped across the board Tuesday and edged closer to the line where desperation meets despair, as indicated by his choice Carly Fiorina, who's failed as a presidential candidate, a U.S. Senate candidate and as the CEO of Hewlett Packard. Texas' Senator has been mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP nomination before the party's convention and is faced with a must-win contest in Indiana next week if he even wants to have a chance of forcing Trump into a contested convention.
"Doing something unorthodox like naming a running mate right now is clearly an attempt to change the subject of conversation away from Trump's victories and to [Cruz's] selections," SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson says. "It's a bit of a gamble, but [Cruz] doesn't really have much to lose here. It's hard to see what the downside of this would be."
During her time as a candidate Fiorina fired at both Trump and Cruz — she said the senator would "say anything to get elected" — and drew fire from Trump, who said, essentially, that Fiorina was not attractive enough to be president. Wednesday afternoon, she sang a ditty about Cruz's two daughters.
"I know two girls that I just adore! I'm so happy that I can see them more, 'cause we travel on the bus all day we get to play, we get to play." Fiorina warbled.
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Traditionally, candidates do not name running mates until after they've sown up the nomination. In 1976, one of the few times something like this has happened before, Ronald Reagan crippled his insurgent candidacy against President Gerald Ford by naming liberal Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker, causing some of Reagan's more conservative delegates to rebel at the convention. Heading into Indiana, which Wilson identifies as Cruz's last stand, Cruz isn't taking nearly as big of a risk.
Fiorina bringing any sort of energy to lagging campaign can only strengthen the Canadian-born senator. Still, Wilson says, it might not be enough.
"If Trump wins Indiana, he will be the nominee," he says. "If Cruz wins Indiana, then we still have a battle and uncertainty on our hands."