After Donald Trump cleaned up in New York last week and Ted Cruz, the sole remaining challenger to the GOP frontrunner, flamed out spectacularly, the Texan was left without much in the way of serious talking points. His New York election night rally was held in Pennsylvania…and only about 150 people turned up. Not really the sort of stuff that a runaway freight train of a campaign is made of, right?
What’s more, as Trump announced on Twitter soon after the results were in, Cruz now has no mathematical path to winning the Republican nomination before the convention. Sure, it’s no sure thing that Trump will make it to 1237 delegates either and most don’t think he’ll get within 100 delegates of that total. But he has at least a theoretical chance while Cruz and Kasich – yes, he’s hanging in there still, too – have no chance at all. Instead, they are relying on a contested convention and a superior ground game to deliver the nomination their way.
Tomorrow the northeastern states vote and Trump is not assured of a complete sweep of the delegates, but he’ll go very close. What’s more, it is almost guaranteed that Cruz will win nothing in the northeast and, indeed, he may again fail to win more than a handful of delegates at all across all of the states combined.
Facing what would be shaping up to be a fourth week of running an anti-Trump campaign instead of a pro-Cruz campaign, how does Cruz take back the media narrative?
Allahpundit at Hot Air speculates that he might get a little oxygen back by floating his VP pick:
Cruz is going to get blown out again tomorrow night, which raises the question of how he wants to spend the next week ahead of the big vote in Indiana. If he does nothing, he’ll spend most of his time fielding questions about collusion with John Kasich and whether his wipeout in the northeast proves that the party has come around to Trump. If he names a VP, he’ll spend most of his time talking about his veep pick and how it fits into his vision for America. That’s a move a would-be nominee makes, not an also-ran.
And who would be his pick to stand and fight with him against Hillary Clinton?
Carly Fiorina is the frontrunner. Not only was Fiorina the first former candidate to endorse Cruz, she was the first big name to support him after various Washington Republicans had signed on with Rubio. If Cruz were to name her this week, he’d got a ton of buzz for putting a woman on the ticket and Fiorina would instantly be elevated to a super-surrogate who could barnstorm Indiana and other states as a draw in her own right to turn voters out for Cruz.
And there’s more:
Fiorina was also the most effective attack dog in the field against Trump during the debates. If you wanted someone on the trail on your behalf making the case for why a contested convention, with all the chaos it entails, is a better option than nominating Donald Trump, that’s who you’d pick. And don’t forget the regional play at stake: Fiorina graduated from Stanford and ran for Senate in 2010 in California, by far the most important state left on the board. If she can help Cruz hold Trump down there, that’s reason enough to pick her given its role in deciding the eventual nominee. And Fiorina helps in the general election too, of course, blunting Hillary’s pitch to women voters. There are lots of advantages in naming her.
There are indeed a lot of advantages to naming Fiorina but, as Allahpundit explains, there are some big downsides to naming her, too.
As Allahpundit notes, for one thing it is going to reek of a political stunt. It’s a move designed to grab headlines in the wake of an embarrassing series of losses by Cruz to someone that he took too long to come out and attack and who – despite unfavorable ratings over 50% nationwide – still seems to clean Cruz’s clock almost everywhere. Sure, he’ll get the headlines on the announcement day but voters can spot a stunt and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be happy playing along.
Add to that a problem that Cruz will have convincing voters that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for someone with no experience at all in government, no idea of how things work, no experience in Washington, no experience even serving in state office…but that a vote for his presidential ticket is a vote for putting someone with all of those attributes a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Fiorina is a failed Senate candidate and her claim to fame is her experience in running a business, not running government. Fiorina and Trump claim, to some extent, the same pedigree as true outsiders – so why would people prefer the untested and unpopular (at least in the primaries) Fiorina to Trump?
If it’s about having a woman on the ticket Cruz should be looking to Nikki Haley – except he won’t because Haley wouldn’t say yes to a Cruz ticket and she endorsed another candidate in the primary season already. There’s a woman who could deliver real Republican voters, who has experience in executive office, and who has far more of a grasp on how to manage government than Fiorina. Granted, she doesn’t do as much to deliver for the ticket geographically, but surely she would be a better pick than Fiorina for VP?
All of that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cruz did try for the ‘hail Mary’ and announce Fiorina as his choice for VP. He’s all out of media oxygen right now and it is only going to get worse after tomorrow’s votes in the northeast. I doubt it will deliver him much in the way of additional votes and it will make it hard to bargain at the convention when he has little to offer Rubio or Kasich other than potentially empty promises instead of a grasped hand lifted skywards on the last night of the GOP’s Cleveland show. But a drowning man will reach out for anything that floats and Cruz, whether he wants to believe it or not, is drowning right now.