Political Editors / Apr. 28, 2016

Cruz's Hail Carly

It's an act of desperation, but it's a calculated act of desperation.

Ted Cruz’s announcement Wednesday declaring former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina his running mate is an act of desperation, but it’s a calculated act of desperation. Cruz is running far behind Trump — in fact, he’s mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination outside of a contested convention — but Cruz isn’t going to go softly into the night, either. Not when Indiana and California still present the opportunity to stop Trump from reaching the magic delegate number of 1,237.

As Cruz’s new running mate said to Fox News’s Megyn Kelly: “This isn’t over until someone reaches 1,237. … I believe Ted Cruz will be our nominee. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are virtually indistinguishable in their positions. And he cannot be our nominee, and if he were to be our nominee, Hillary Clinton would be our president. And that is a future that I’m not prepared to lay by and allow to have happen.”

In naming a veep pick before the Republican National Convention, Cruz follows in the steps of Ronald Reagan. He accomplished two things: He disrupted the focus on Trump’s foreign policy speech and added a rhetorically sharp attack dog to his team. Fiorina blunted Trump’s attacks like no one else, and she has also eviscerated Hillary Clinton at every opportunity. With Trump’s comments about women, Fiorina presents an alternative to the misogyny. And when the race turns to California, she carries some weight after her Senate run there, demon sheep ad and all. But there are questions about Fiorina as a running mate. Ideology and constituent-wise, how does she help? She has only one delegate, and she won’t particularly appeal to moderate voters in the general election.

But all that is for naught if Cruz doesn’t take the 57 Indiana delegates in next week’s winner-take-all primary. Losing means it’s effectively the end of the road for him, so it’s now or never.

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