Ted Cruz To Name Carly Fiorina As “Running Mate”

In an unprecedented move that reeks of desperation, Ted Cruz is naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate before the primary process has even ended.

Ted Cruz Carly Fiorina

In what can only be described as a highly unusual desperation move, Ted Cruz will name former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his Vice-Presidential “running mate” at an event later today in Indiana:

INDIANAPOLIS — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, desperate to alter the course of a presidential primary fight in which Donald J. Trump is closing in on victory, will announce Wednesday afternoon that Carly Fiorina will be his running mate if he wins the Republican nomination, two campaign advisers confirmed.

The move, a day after Mr. Trump scored unexpectedly wide victory margins in sweeping five East Coast states, amounts to the grandest diversionary tactic a presidential candidate can stage — or at least the grandest one available to a candidate trailing by more than 400 delegates who failed to win more than 25 percent of the vote in any state on Tuesday.

Mr. Cruz’s decision to rush out a vice-presidential pick before next week’s primary in Indiana, which is becoming make-or-break for his candidacy, could serve to direct attention away from unflattering headlines about both Mr. Trump’s success and the wheezing alliance between Mr. Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who agreed to clear out of Indiana if Mr. Cruz withdrew from competition in Oregon and New Mexico.

And since endorsing Mr. Cruz last month, Mrs. Fiorina, the former presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard chief executive, has proved to be an eager surrogate, attacking both Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton with zeal.

Indeed, Mr. Cruz’s gambit may present a perilous challenge for Mr. Trump, who faces mounting criticism for his derisive remarks about women, including his repeated claims that Mrs. Clinton’s sole political asset is “the woman card.”

More from Politico:

Ted Cruz will announce Wednesday that Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential nominee if he’s the Republican Party’s pick for president, according to three sources with knowledge of the announcement.

Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, has been among Cruz’s most loyal and active surrogates since she ended her own 2016 GOP presidential bid after a poor finish in New Hampshire in February.

The announcement, which was teased early Wednesday morning and will be made official Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis, comes the day after Cruz suffered a drubbing at the hands of Donald Trump in five northeastern primaries — losses that mathematically eliminated Cruz from getting the 1,237 delegates he’d need to clinch the GOP nomination.

Cruz’s hopes now rest in a contested convention this summer in Cleveland, where the Texas senator would hope to stop Trump on the first ballot and then win in subsequent rounds of voting thanks to support from the loyal delegates his campaign has assiduously courted.

The Cruz campaign deliberated over whether to pick Fiorina for the last two weeks, according to one person familiar with the move. It has polled the potential ticket, examining it for its prospective strengths and weaknesses.

The hope within the campaign is that Fiorina will help Cruz in California, which will award 172 delegates on June 7. Fiorina is scheduled to give the keynote address at this weekend’s California Republican Party convention, speaking hours after Cruz takes the stage.

The move comes at a time of growing desperation within Cruz circles. Some in the campaign worry that the Texas senator will lose Indiana on Tuesday and lose other key states in May, paving the way for a Trump nomination.

At first glance, this largely unprecedented move reeks of desperation on the part of a candidate who has been mathmatically eliminated from winning the nomination on a first ballot vote and whose path to victory now involves attempting to force a second ballot in the belief that delegates and party insiders will turn to him even though he came in second place in the primary race, lost most of the races he contested, and seemed to do worse as time went on. Historically speaking, the closest analogy one can find to this comes from 1976 when Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were locked in a fight for the nomination that resulted in neither candidate having a sufficient number of delegates to win the nomination outright. In an effort to appeal to unbound delegates from the Northeast and elsewhere, Reagan named Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate shortly before the convention opened in Kansas City in August of that year. Rather than helping him gain support, though, Reagan’s move backfired because it ended up annoying conservatives such as North Carolina’s Jesse Helms and the head of the Mississippi Republican Party to such an extent that they switched their support to Ford, guaranteeing him the remaining delegates he needed to win the nomination. In Reagan’s case, though, the selection of Schweiker was something that was announced shortly before the beginning of the convention, not nearly two months beforehand when there are still primaries to be contested as Cruz is doing here.

Rather than trying to sew up a nomination fight, what Cruz is doing here can’t help but come across as a desperate move to grab the media spotlight from Donald Trump, who has spent the day basking in the glow of his five state victory. Playing the media game against Donald Trump, though, is always a dangerous game and past history suggests that it’s one Cruz will lose. As it stands, Trump is already set to make headlines of his own in the Hoosier State tonight when he appears at an event with former University of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, who will endorse Trump for President and apparently campaign for him across the state in the coming week. In the grand scheme of things, it seems rather clear that Bobby Knight will likely have a bigger impact with Indiana voters than Carly Fiorina, and Trump will no doubt have something to say about Cruz bringing Fiorina on board in such an unusual manner.

More broadly, it’s hard to see exactly what it is that Fiorina brings to the table that makes her a smart choice for Cruz at this point in the race. While there was a brief time at the beginning of the race when we saw her poll numbers increase sufficiently to get into several of the main stage, prime time, debates, that up tick in popularity did not last long and her star quickly seemed to fade as she was subjected to the increased scrutiny that comes with higher poll numbers. She didn’t particularly attract female voters, for example, nor did she seem to draw much support from Silicon Valley, where she had made her fortune at Lucent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard. Some analysts are suggesting that Cruz hopes to use her to win support in some parts of California, but the fact that she lost her 2010 Senate race against Barbara Boxer so badly suggests that she likely doesn’t have nearly that much influence in the Golden State as the idea might suggest. Finally, the fact that Republicans nationwide widely rejected Fiorina as they got to know more about her make the idea that she is going to help Cruz do anything other than perhaps draw some attention away from his devastating losses over the past two weeks fairly unlikely.

Daniel Larison comments:

As a matter of politics, it is difficult to see what Fiorina adds except for her being from California. Cruz reportedly sees her as a talented “attack dog,” and I suppose she can do that well enough, but she also brings with her the baggage of her business record. Selecting a former CEO who was known for the large number of employees she fired is an odd choice under any circumstances, and it is likely going to create more headaches for Cruz than it solves. She has had no success in politics, so it’s not clear why anyone would think that adding her to the campaign would lead to success. On top of all that, Fiorina isn’t prepared to be president if necessary. For that reason alone, it is a mistake to select her as a would-be Vice President, and it reflects poorly on Cruz’s judgment.

The main problem for Cruz is that naming a running mate this far in advance of the convention so reeks of desperation that it probably cancels out whatever small advantage having Fiorina as a running mate might give his campaign.

Larison is largely correct here, of course, both in his assessment of what Fiorina brings to the Cruz campaign, which is virtually nothing, and the fact that this is likely going to be perceived as a desperation move by many voters and largely irrelevant by most others. Additionally, the fact that Cruz is selecting Fiorina despite her rather obvious lack of qualifications for the job could end up having the same impact on his campaign that John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin ultimately did in 2008. As many observers have noted over the years, the selection of a running mate is perhaps the first ‘Presidential’ decision that a candidate makes, and it is above-all a statement to the public that the person selected is prepared to take over should something happen to the candidate for President. When it became apparent that this was not true of Sarah Palin, it called John McCain’s judgment into question. Selecting a similarly unqualified candidate ought to call Cruz’s judgment into question as well, and could end up doing his campaign more harm than good.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jack says:

    Man who won’t get the nomination to name a woman who will not be the VP. Got it.

  2. James Pearce says:

    Just when you thought the race wouldn’t get more bizarre…

  3. KM says:

    WTF Cruz? I don’t even know where to start with this…….

    The only way it can get weirder at this point is if Trump picks Sanders for VP.

  4. MikeSJ says:

    I look forward to the press giving her a pass on her never ending lies about the planned parenthood video’s

    That’s really mighty decent of them.

  5. David M says:

    Wait, he’s actually saying she’ll be on the ticket as VP? I’d seen some headlines, but I assumed it was along the lines of “we need to do Fiorina a favor, let’s pretend we’re vetting her for the VP slot and leak it to some friendly reporters”. That seemed harmless enough by GOP standards, but WTF, it’s real?

  6. grumpy realist says:

    I still think that Cruz was planning to pick Caitlyn Jenner but got the names mixed up.

    Why are you laughing?

  7. Pch101 says:

    I suspect that Cruz is attempting to project an image of being a serious contender who needs to make decisions like this, i.e. someone whose chances are good enough that his supporters should not defect.

    It probably won’t accomplish much, but I don’t see much harm in it, either.

  8. Pete S says:

    This is a bit different than the ridiculous Palin selection. Cruz has no chance of winning the presidency, so there is no chance of her becoming vice president. Cruz Is no different than the other marginal candidates who had a hot streak in the polling, only since there were few candidates left it propelled him to second. This is just a chance for her to get access to his donor lists for her failed 2020 campaign, and I cannot imagine she is cancelling any vacation plans for late summer or fall.

  9. CB says:

    ::curls up in fetal position, sobs uncontrollably, prays for the end::

  10. LaMont says:

    Ted Cruz could have done better selecting Ted Nugent as his running mate! If the point was to persuade the crazies to start considering him, paticularly in Indiana, Carly Fiorina does not move that needle. And if Cruz is trying to make a splash in the media because of the butt wooping he got from Trump, Fiorina wouldn’t help there either! Everybody knows it’s a desperate move. What’s mind boggling to me is that it’s a desperation move that isn’t considered swinging for the fences! Cruz, you suck!

  11. Gustopher says:

    Wow, he actually found someone who makes him seem likable. Well done, I suppose.

    She has zero governmental experience. Why do Republicans think that Presidential politics is entry level? Would they want to hire a CEO for a Fortune 500 company whose only experience was being on the board of their HOA?

    (Would they — *gasp* — hire a CEO for a Fortune 500 company who who ran their previous company into the ground, like Fiorina did with HP?)

  12. Tony W says:

    This is an act of desperation for Fiorina as much as it is for Cruz.

  13. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Few things scream “I’m not part of the Establishment!” more than picking a former Fortune 500 CEO as your running mate.


  14. James Joyner says:

    He really should have gone with Ronald Reagan. Jesus would be even better, but he’d compound the Natural Born Citizen questions.

  15. Scott says:

    @Pete S: The trouble with Palin was that she wasn’t properly vetted. She was picked in haste. On the surface, she was a perfectly reasonable 1st term governor. Only afterward was her obvious deficiencies brought to the surface.

  16. Scott says:

    Maybe the strategy is to get into a debate on who is the worst business person. That would be amusing.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: It demonstrates the contempt that they have for the POTUS and for government, in that they think it’s a position you can springboard into from somewhere with no political experience.

    The major difference between being a POTUS and CEO? You can’t fire people you can’t get along with.

  18. sam says:

    Morticia and Lurch do not a winning combination make.

  19. Jen says:

    My hunch is that he’s thinking this will somehow help him in CA.

    How many more darts does the GOP have to throw at the dartboard at this point?

  20. RWB says:

    I read an article that said no one at HP, with the exception of John Doerr, endorsed her or donated to her campaign. The obvious assumption is that this refers to the people she worked with; executive staff. However, she is SOOO popular with HP employees and with the tech community at large, that they may have literally meant NO ONE, not one single HP employee at any level. There is a reason for this. I remember the Carly days very well. That was when I stopped buying HP products ans stopped recommending them to associates and to clients.

    You misjudge the disdain we in California have for Carly. Carly assures that Cruz loses California. Like many others here, I might have voted for Cruz, but I will never vote for Carly.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    Let me remind everyone that this Cruz guy is the same person who refused to let law students from “lesser Ivies” be in his study group at law school.

    Trump I think is a flaming twit who I will not vote for, but Cruz I detest with the white-hot rage of a billion burning suns.

  22. Davebo says:


    Only afterward was her obvious deficiencies brought to the surface.

    What you call deficiencies some in the GOP, especially today’s GOP calls features!

  23. Slugger says:

    This truely makes no sense. Ms. Fiorina is not a vote-getter. She lost the only election she was in, and in the Bay Area counties where people know her best, she was trounced. Picking someone who is very unpopular in her native territory is just plain weird.

  24. PJ says:

    Fiorina was the only one willing to be Cruz’s running mate.

  25. Tony W says:

    @Slugger: This actually makes perfect sense if you track the rhetoric coming from the Trump/Cruz disciples.

    The Republicans, particularly Trump’s supporters, genuinely believe that people are voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. In their minds, they just leveled the playing field.

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    He explained his reasoning in the speech that he gave introducing her:
    1) He prayed about this for two weeks and she is who God told him to pick (apparently, God has a flair for irony and offbeat humor)
    2) She is the true scotswoman conservative among all the choices he considered (we’ll have to see what Sarah has to say about being demoted as top conservative female icon, but she may be too busy with Trump’s campaign to be concerned)
    3) Because she is a woman, too, she completely obliterates any claims Hillary has to being a woman candidate (or was that one Carly’s point, I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the article, so I may have this one wrong for attribution)
    4) Together, they form the perfect balance of leadership that the country will need to reverse
    failure that ‘murka has become during the satrapy of that Kenyan guy who ruined everything.

    How can we possibly say this isn’t a well-planned strategic move from the guy who Glen Beckhas identified as the only candidate who loves his country enough to qualify for the office? It’s brilliant strategy! I wish I’d thought of it–I’d be hiring a decorator to plan my color scheme even now.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    God has a flair for irony and offbeat humor

    She really does, doesn’t she.

  28. Moosebreath says:

    I think this is like how the first few Roman Emperors chose their successors. They looked for someone who would be even less popular than they were, so they would look good in retrospect.

  29. al-Ameda says:

    Ted is indulging in the modern Republican fantasy that they can appeal to Democratic Party women by selecting a woman to the ticket, and magically millions of Democratic Party female voters will change allegiance to the Republican Party. McCain went for this mirage and selected Palin, that went real well – I think zero women re-registered Republican.

    Also, in 2010 the California GOP was salivating at the prospect of running a strong conservative business woman like Carly Fiorina against the (always underestimated) socialist Barbara Boxer, the GOP was confident that Boxer was done – Fiorina lost by 1 million votes, no crossover votes were there to be had.

  30. mike shupp says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Actually my very first response to this news was that “if Ted Cruz wants to appeal to American women, he should get a sex change operation.”

  31. Kylopod says:

    @mike shupp: Didn’t that already happen?

  32. Paul Hooson says:

    Simply pathetic. In the last two weeks, Cruz comes in a poor third place in 5 of 6 states despite good efforts, then picks another candidate that quickly faded. With only 10 states remaining, there’s not enough good places to catch Trump now. It’s over for Ted. No contested convention…

  33. Mu says:

    I’m just waiting for Trump to pick Chelsea and Hilary retaliating by picking Ivana. Our choices will be Clinton/Trump or Trump/Clinton.

  34. C. Clavin says:

    Trump has a massive problem with women…so Cruz is hitting him where it hurts. Smart and stupid at the same time.
    I’m more interested in Trumps largely incoherent foreign policy speech from yesterday.
    And now he wants to use nukes against ISIS

  35. Neil Hudelson says:


    It’s Indiana that is the motivator. The conservative base is hopped up over one of the nation’s most draconian abortion laws.* Fiorina is a woman who proudly defends denying other women control over their body. Cruz is making it clear to Hoosier voters that he, too, will do everything he can to make sure women have no control over their body.

    Who knows, it might work.


  36. MarkedMan says:

    The consensus here, with the exception of Clavin, seems to be that this is yet another bone-headed move. But I’m wondering if its not the best move he could make under the circumstances.
    – If he does nothing new, Trump will win. So this is doing something new.
    – What he does needs to get talked about. Check
    – He is drawing attention to Trump’s only weakness with the Republican Primary voter population – Trump is weaker with women.
    – Given that he wanted to pick a woman as a VP candidate, the field is extremely small. How many people with a political future would want to jump onto this sinking ship? I think his choice may have come down to Palin or Fiorina.

    And, most amazingly, Trump is actually leaning into the “trap” (a desperate and probably ineffectual one, but still, a trap). His increasingly misogynistic comments about Hillary are being phrased in such a way as to belittle the very concept of a strong or competent woman. A Republican voter that wants to stick a finger in his eye over such comments can now select an obvious candidate.

    So I’m not saying this will work. I’m just saying Cruz should get credit for coming up with a complete plan and executing it, rather than just throwing a Hail Mary pass.

  37. Mr. Prosser says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, maybe. It’s a plan but it’s still a Hail Mary and as Kevin Drum wrote, “It’s a Hail Mary thrown to the wrong end zone.”

  38. Blue Galangal says:

    @Mr. Prosser: I think he was aiming for the basketball ring.

  39. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: That certainly makes more sense than expecting her to help out in California. I think you’re right that IN was likely one of the factors that propelled Cruz to make this selection. It just reeks of desperation.

    @C. Clavin: Trump’s foreign policy speech was a mess. The fact that this man is anywhere near being considered as the leader of the free world is appalling.

  40. Kylopod says:


    If he does nothing new, Trump will win.

    The same calculus existed when McCain chose Palin in 2008. It was peddled as a “high-risk, high-reward” move at the time. McCain saw that he was headed toward defeat, and that making a “boring” choice like Romney or Pawlenty wouldn’t have changed that trajectory.

    (Incidentally, Fiorina herself was on his short list. It’s hard to know how that would have gone down exactly; presumably her lack of experience in political office and her business failures would have received a lot of attention, but she probably would not have sounded as buffoonish and unprepared as Palin did.)

  41. dmhlt says:

    Apparently someone from Planned Parenthood purchased the “CarlyFiorinaForVicePresident.com” URL, because it redirects you to the donation page for Planned Parenthood.

  42. Guarneri says:


    Fair enough. Who, then, is a good match for the Wicked Witch of the East?

  43. C. Clavin says:

    Hey Guarneri…what happened to the European Union collapsing in 10 days like you claimed a couple months ago???
    Oh. You were dead wrong. Per usual. Shocking.
    How do you get thru the day being so wrong about every single fwcking thing????

  44. Pete S says:


    You are probably accurate here in following Cruz’ thought process here. But it only makes sense if you assume that women voters will vote for any woman, even if she and her running mate are advocating policies that are not helpful for them at all. So even in pandering he was insulting. At least Trump is honest and straightforward with his misogyny.

  45. Catchling says:


    I read an article that said no one at HP, with the exception of John Doerr, endorsed her or donated to her campaign.

    Compare the paucity of Senate endorsements for Cruz. It’s like his main criterion was finding another person who alienated almost everyone they’ve worked with.

  46. Andre Kenji says:

    Ted Cruz is on the TV saying that he is going to bring back jobs to America. With the Outsourcing Queen on his side.

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pete S: That’s not a reach in this section of the electorate. How many working class Americans are not voting for Democrats any more? Voting against one’s interests is the life’s blood of GOP politics.

  48. grumpy realist says:

    For some reason this cookbook reminds me of Donald Trump:

    “For your convenience I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soups and sauces, sandwiches, vegetables, the art of French frying, desserts, how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap, and also what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attacks, keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.”

    (Raven over at Balloon Juice mentions the book in one of the threads.)

  49. al-Ameda says:


    Fair enough. Who, then, is a good match for the Wicked Witch of the East?

    Ann Coulter or Kelly Ripa??

  50. C. Clavin says:

    Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee, suggested Clinton would be easy to debate in the general election.

    “I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky,”

    Stay classy Republicans.

  51. Jen says:

    @C. Clavin: Wow, that is disgusting.

    And yeah, after reading Trump’s responses in the NYT and WaPo interviews, I’m sure he’ll come across great in a debate with Hillary. He has no idea what he’s talking about and she’s a policy wonk. My guess is that he’ll refuse to debate her, just like he bailed on Republican debates after the field got small enough that it’d be obvious he didn’t know what he was talking about.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: I dunno. Trump may be eager to debate Hillary. First, he’d win in the eyes of his supporters. Second – Dunning-Kruger.

  53. al-Ameda says:


    My hunch is that he’s thinking this will somehow help him in CA.

    The only thing that might help Cruz in California right now would be to have the Jenner/Kardashian people campaign for him in LA.

  54. An Interested Party says:

    I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky…

    Offending women–that’s the way to go…apparently these idiots don’t realize the buzzsaw they are jumping into…

  55. Tyrell says:

    @RWB: HP products: I have an HP desktop since 2006 and still runs well, but Windows XP is out and the graphics won’t handle the new games. There is not very many other brand choices out there now as far as desktops run

  56. Pch101 says:


    Fiorina won 56% of the vote in the 2010 GOP Senate California primary. If the goal is to beat Trump in the state presidential primary in order to increase the odds of a brokered convention, then this isn’t a terrible idea — it may not change the outcome, but it can’t do Cruz any harm to try.

  57. Thomas Weaver says:

    And, HP destroyer Carly is going to help Cruz how? I guess when you are truly desperate, you begin acting as a lefty, progressive and do those strange things….

  58. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “(Would they — *gasp* — hire a CEO for a Fortune 500 company who who ran their previous company into the ground, like Fiorina did with HP?)”

    If the former CEO was named ‘Carl’, not ‘Carly’, then that would be normal practice.

  59. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “He really should have gone with Ronald Reagan. Jesus would be even better, but he’d compound the Natural Born Citizen questions.”

    I would say that such questions are waived for white dudes, but He would be rather brown.

  60. Barry says:

    @Tyrell: “There is not very many other brand choices out there now as far as desktops run”

    Get a laptop, an external screen and plug-in keyboard.

  61. gVOR08 says:

    @Barry: What? He wasn’t brown in the painting in the basement of my old Lutheran church.

  62. Neil Hudelson says:


    As long as you don’t need top of the line tech or really strong computing power, Dells are fairly inexpensive and their laptop docking system is nice.

    (here’s one in action: https://static.spiceworks.com/attachments/post/0012/0318/20130111_135910.jpg)

  63. DrDaveT says:

    Too bad this wasn’t the caption contest. “The Hive Queen and the Hegemon” writes itself.

  64. Grewgills says:

    You do a disservice to the Hegemon’s political skill and the Hive Queen’s… everything.