Sen. Ted Cruz, looking to jolt a presidential race that has quickly turned away from him, said Wednesday that Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he won the Republican nomination.
Cruz, who is now so far behind GOP candidate Donald Trump that his best shot at the nomination is to emerge at a contested convention, said the unusual move would help unite Republicans.
“Why make this announcement now?” Cruz said in Indianapolis Wednesday. “If we are to win the general election this fall, we must unite … to give the American people a clear choice.”
Days away from what might be a must-win primary in Indiana, Cruz cast himself and Fiorina, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race and endorsed Cruz two months ago, as the true representatives of the party — not Trump.
“If we nominate a candidate who is a big-government New York liberal, a Washington insider who agrees with Hillary Clinton and (President) Barack Obama on issue after issue,” Cruz said, “then we as a Republican Party will have failed the country.”
Continuing the line of attack, Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who sparred with Trump during some of the early GOP debates this year, said Trump and Democratic front-runner Clinton “are two sides of the same coin.”
Cruz is trailing Trump in the polls in Indiana and is looking to stop Trump from garnering the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the GOP nomination before the party’s July convention. Various projections say Trump can reach the threshold with wins in Indiana and California, as long as he prevails in other states where he holds huge leads in the polls, such as New Jersey.
That Cruz would tap a running mate months before the convention and when Trump’s lead is widening “looks like desperation,” said Susan Del Percio, a New York Republican political consultant.
“It looks like he’s desperately trying to shift the conversation from Trump’s victories last night,” Del Percio said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s going to succeed because it’s too presumptive at this point. He’s trying to show he has female support but it’s going to look like pandering.”
She noted that even Trump has said it’s premature to talk about running mates and he’s the solid front-runner.
“It’s a Hail Mary and everybody knows it,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. “She’s going to play the obvious, traditional vice-presidential attack-dog role. Only in this case, she will be aiming at another Republican. She’ll lob grenades at Trump on an hourly basis while Cruz gets to act presidential.”
In a statement, Trump blasted Cruz, saying: “Cruz has no path to victory, he is only trying to stay relevant.”