On Wednesday, the AP reported some genuinely big news in the 2016 presidential race: the very first vice presidential pick of the election. Of course, thanks to the hotly-contested GOP primary, there are going to be more of those than usual, but it's still a distinct milestone. A certain Texas senator has tabbed a certain ex-CEO and former rival. But what's the thinking behind it? Why did Ted Cruz pick Carly Fiorina to be his VP now?
There are some relatively simple reasons he'd want to make this move now, given what just happened on Tuesday night. Hot on the heels of his blistering defeat in the New York primary, Cruz suffered a string of devastating losses across five northeastern primary states (picking up a scant three delegates in total), and as such, you can hardly blame his campaign for wanting to claim a news cycle and generate some attention, almost regardless of the how and why.
And a vice presidential pick does just that. You soak up some attention from the media and from likely voters, and you get the aura of seriousness that comes from having two names on your ticket, since that's usually a step that only the nominee actually takes. But beyond the basic, broad-stroke reasons why making a VP selection could benefit him, it's fair to wonder: Why specifically Fiorina, of all people?
After all, whatever Fiorina’s strengths and weaknesses as a politician might be ― she was notably the only Republican candidate to start on the undercard debate stage and ascend to the main stage, briefly flirting with contention in September ― she’s undeniably had an unsuccessful time of it. Fiorina has never held elected office at any level, and she only ran on one other occasion, when she lost her 2010 Senate race against longtime California Democrat Barbara Boxer.
It does make for a sensible ideological and geographical fit, though, and maybe that's part of what's operating here. While Cruz is a very conservative senator for the deep-red state of Texas, Fiorina ― although originally born in Austin ― is a high-profile California Republican, albeit one with some underrated staunch right-wing views. She also theoretically bolsters Cruz against the sort of private-sector-based attacks he's been taking from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump throughout the campaign, adding a supposed political outsider from the corporate world to his camp.
Also (and this is a valuable asset if you're hoping to nab a VP slot), she's been a pretty active Cruz supporter and surrogate since suspending her own presidential run, and she's been a lot more polished and effective in that role than, say, folks like Chris Christie or Ben Carson have been for Trump.
She's also perhaps the only Republican candidate who's come at all close to forcing the rude real estate magnate into a backtrack. After he boorishly intimated in an interview that Fiorina was too ugly to be elected president, her response that "women all over the country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said" was one of the worst moments for him in any debate.
It'll be interesting to see whether this gambit pays off in any discernible way, considering Cruz is very much on the knife edge right now. At this point, according to CBS News, Trump needs a mere 45 percent of the remaining pledged Republican delegates available in order to secure the party's nomination, and Cruz is making the Indiana primary his effective last stand. Fiorina is reportedly in Indianapolis, and it's possible that the vice presidential announcement could come Wednesday night.