A strange primary cycle got even stranger today as Ted Cruz chose Carly Fiorina as his vice-presidential running mate. Though we expected all three remaining Republicans to choose running mates heading into a convention if one was contested, Cruz doing it so early, and in such a deep hole, shows how desperate he is to immediately turn things around, starting with Indiana this Tuesday.
Vice-presidential announcements usually result in polling bumps, but that’s after a general election has started. We don’t have much experience with running mates before a nominee is chosen. On the one hand, it’s understandable for a candidate to do that, since they want to be ready with one if an open convention comes to fruition. On the other hand, it seems rather absurd for Cruz to pick one when he’s so far back of Trump. “Presumptuous” isn’t the right word, because he’s not exactly presuming he’s the nominee, but it certainly feels like it fits.
The hope is that the Fiorina pick excites enough remaining voters enough to vote for Cruz, keeping Trump under 1,237 delegates before the convention. Many times on this very site I said that Fiorina would be an excellent vice-presidential pick. She is a razor-sharp debater, had largely been vetted by the party in the build up to the primaries, has both anti-establishment and establishment credibility, and can be an attack dog against Hillary Clinton while being inoculated from sexism charges.
Nonetheless, if Cruz and Kasich made VP choices, I expected them to pick more strategically. For example, I wouldn’t have put it past Cruz to pick a citizen of Indiana as his VP this week in order to win its primary on Tuesday. I also expected all candidates to seriously entertain a Pennsylvanian for the #2 spot in order to win a bulk of its 54 unbound delegates. Fiorina shows Cruz is trying a broader strategy.
As if it matters how a man falls down.