In announcing Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is taking his best shot to rouse the GOP and stop front-runner Donald Trump.
Watching first Cruz and then Fiorina, one could see why this might work:
1. She is lively, at ease, and knows how to deliver a big speech. Cruz? Not so much. His lengthy introduction to her, while capturing valuable airtime, also shows why he is so ill-equipped to attract free media and to outshine Trump. In bright red, Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, literally added color to the stage. And more important, she may be a media magnet.
2. She, in a somewhat convincing fashion, lumped Trump and Hillary Clinton together, saying they are not going to change the system. “They are the system,” she said with great deliberateness. That’s a plausible argument, actually. They are two very privileged, ideologically slippery candidates who’ve worked the system to their advantage. Cruz has tried to convey the same, but her delivery was simply better.
3. She said what the not-Trump Republican electorate has been thinking about Trump: “He doesn’t represent me. He doesn’t represent my party.” That’s as clear and concise a statement of #NeverTrump as we have heard.
4. She is new. TV audiences are tired of the three remaining Republicans (even Trump becomes repetitive) and the two Democrats. Been there, seen that. Most voters haven’t seen Fiorina before, or at least not since the debates (back in the Dark Ages of 2015). Trump should know — you have to introduce new players to keep the show fresh.
5. She is making a straight play for female voters. She stressed her own experiences in the workplace. Cruz stressed them. Cruz recounted her standing up to Trump’s insult about her face. Many women will perk up and listen to that message.
6. She conveys well the drumbeat that it’s all over and they should roll over and give up. When she defiantly insisted that “some things are worth fighting for,” she removed a little bit of the fatalism that threatens to overtake the GOP.
7. She tried her best to humanize Cruz, mentioning they watched the Final Four together (this is Indiana, folks) and singing (yeah, singing) one of her made-up songs to the Cruz daughters. Women, especially younger moms, are likely to find that endearing. At least it was unexpected. The campaign can use some spontaneity.
8. While Cruz and Fiorina chose not to go after Trump for his incoherent and daft foreign policy speech earlier in the day, she showed willingness to take on his ignorance, insularity and downright meanness toward the rest of the world. Extolling America as a generous country was a refreshing change of pace.
9. She and Cruz reinforce one another’s mental agility. These people are smart, whip smart.
10. As desperate as it might seem to the press corps, Fiorina’s appearance does induce the average voter to re-engage, especially if she is (I suspect she will be) all over the media for the next few days. She gives the Cruz campaign a pulse.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post.