5/3 Edit: This article, of course, is just fun speculation now. Cruz is out.
On Wednesday after teasing the announcement for several hours prior, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz announced a previous rival for the nomination, Carly Fiorina, as his vice presidential choice if succeeding in a brokered convention. The decision may be brilliant, or it may be remarkably detrimental. Thus, let’s take a look at the three facets of Fiorina’s relevance to Cruz and determine their pros and cons.
SHE’S AN OUTSIDER
While not as bombastic or effective as Donald Trump, Fiorina’s campaign was based largely on her outsider status. She’s never held public office or won an election. She’s viewed as a successful businesswoman by many, and her “I’m not from Washington; I’m here to fix things” mentality is appealing.
She’s also not necessarily an outsider by choice. In 2010, she had a failed senate run in California that like Trump, she funded herself pretty heavily. She did beat her Republican rival, Tom Campbell in the primary, though, despite running, well… whatever this ad is…
Oh, Demon Sheep. You have a close place in my heart along with all of the other unforgettably terrible campaign ads. I’m looking at you, Herman Cain. #neverforgetdemonsheep
Her senate and presidential runs have Fiorina zero for two in her ability to win a public election. She’s got her fingers in plenty of political pies, though. She launched a PAC that helped connect women with conservative candidates and has been on the chair of a variety of boards, including a DOD advisory board and a place of power within the American Conservative Union.
Trump’s outsider status comes with a complete lack of experience within the government. To some extent, Fiorina bests him in this arena with her advisory and advocacy, but she’ll likely still fall victim to the pitfalls of inexperienced nominees – something neither Romney or Obama had to deal with last election.
She actually filmed her first ad for Cruz in the last several hours, which fires across the bow at ‘insiders.’
SHE’S NOT AN OLD WHITE MAN
Carly Fiorina is a woman, which could dramatically aid Cruz against his two most serious threats: Trump and Clinton. The former has an awful track record with women, something he seems to be playing Russian roulette with to see how far he can take it each week. The latter is a woman, and Trump isn’t wrong in one regard: she has made it a massive part of her candidacy.
Fiorina is helpful in this regard in both the primary and the general. In the remaining primaries, she could sway more women to hop on the Cruz train. In the general, she could infuse a bit of gender diversity against an opposing ticket that’ll be equally diverse. If she can appeal to independents who like the progressive idea of getting a woman in the White House, and also don’t particularly like Clinton, that could prove invaluable.
On the flip side of that, she’s not an old white Republican, but she is a older one percenter that seems to have an awkward disconnect to the ‘everyday American.’ Her bizarre song during her Wednesday’s speech wasn’t endearing; it felt like the soundtrack to ‘The Shining.’ She’s not as likable as someone like Nikki Haley, and like or hate her, she’s not as engaging as Sarah Palin. She doesn’t energize youthful voters, either – something Clinton will attempt to do with a younger pick.
CALIFORNIA: CRUZ’ LAST STAND
If Cruz can stave off Trump in Indiana next week, California will be a delegate battle of immense importance. Right now, Trump’s spreads are fairly commanding; his Real Clear Politics average is just over 17 points. Throughout her fiery CEO tenure at HP and her intense senate campaign, Fiorina’s made friends with important donors and Republicans in the Golden State.
Politico reported today that Fiorina may not be too helpful there, however, with most of her strongest sway lying in the Central Valley, somewhere where Cruz isn’t treading water like other areas. Plus, that aforementioned fire at HP has definitely earned Fiorina some enemies in Silicon Valley. Finally, there’s a lot of fuss over her leaving California shortly after her political failure and not properly paying off campaign debts in the state.
Of course, none of this really matters much if Cruz gets decimated in Indiana, where he’s honed in heavily right now. Fiorina could give him both a media boost and another set of important boots on the ground. Real Clear’s spreads are still in Trump’s favor and Five Thirty Eight forecasts a Cruz annihilation if state polls hold. If national polls and endorsements aid the Texas senator, however, Five Thirty Eight swings the odds in his favor, giving him 16 points on the real estate mogul.
Fiorina can be three things for Cruz. If he loses, nothing matters. If he wins, she can accentuate him smoothly enough to make him more likable in the general. Or, she can dive-bomb into the side of the ship Sarah Palin style. In 2008, she looked good on paper, too. When Fiorina puts her chips on the table, Planned Parenthood style, she’s all in. That could backfire; especially in a debate against a suave, young Democrat – someone like Julian Castro or the like.
Feature photos courtesy of Gage Skidmore.