WASHINGTON, April 28, 2016 — Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz announced Wednesday that he has tapped former HP executive Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Cruz praised Fiorina as a fierce competitor and one who has shattered glass ceilings.
Cruz’s “major announcement” came a day after Donald Trump swept contests in five states and Cruz is mathematically eliminated from clinching the nomination before the GOP convention. HIs campaign argues that Trump will not reach the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee, either.
Cruz’s announcement is at least partly an attempt to give him a burst of much-needed momentum after his disastrous performance Tuesday. He will need a significant win in Indiana’s Tuesday primary to regain momentum for his anti-Trump movement. He would also need a strong performance in the June 7 primary in California, where Fiorina mounted an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2010.
The early announcement of a running mate is not unprecedented. In 1976, Ronald Reagan named an early running mate—Pennsylvania Sen. Richard S. Schweiker—in his bid to defeat President Gerald Ford. The gambit failed, as Ford prevailed over Reagan at the 1976 Republican convention.
The unusual move from the Cruz campaign comes just hours after billionaire businessman Trump, who is trying to look like the presumptive nominee, gave a high-profile scripted speech on foreign policy. Trump responded to the news of Fiorina’s selection in typical fashion: with a tweet that featured a clip of Fiorina criticizing Cruz on CNN earlier this year. Trump later called the pick “a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign by an all talk, no action politician.”
The announcement has been seen as an attempt by Cruz to steal the news cycle away from Trump after netting only five delegates on Tuesday. Fiorina might have a hard time persuading voters to join the Never Trump movement, though. She has a worse business record than Trump, leading HP to disaster, laying off more than 30,000 workers and shipping jobs overseas. She was fired in 2005 by the HP board. She has never held elected office, losing by a million votes in a 2010 Senate bid against Democrat Barbara Boxer.
Pre-announcing Fiorina as his running mate is a perilous move for Cruz. It may strike voters not yet sold on Cruz as presumptuous, the equivalent of Al Gore’s launching his transition effort before the courts had officially decided the 2000 election. If the press treats Cruz’s premature decision as a sign of desperation, it could spell trouble.
Not since 1936 has a running mate had absolutely no prior experience as a senator, high executive official, governor or member of the House of Representatives. That lack is particularly glaring in that Cruz himself has less experienced in those positions than most presidential nominees.