- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

As the chance to be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee slipped further beyond his grasp, Sen. Ted Cruz made an aggressive move Wednesday to get back in the race by tapping Carly Fiorina to be his running mate.

The Texas senator hoped Mrs. Fiorina would give a needed jolt to his campaign after front-runner Donald Trump scored landslide victories Tuesday in five Northeast states that expanded his lead in the delegate hunt and made Mr. Trump the all-but-presumptive nominee.

Mr. Cruz lauded Mrs. Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO who dropped out of the GOP presidential race in February, for being a true conservative, a trailblazing businesswoman and a breast cancer survivor.

“She is careful. She is measured. She is serious. She doesn’t get rattled,” said Mr. Cruz, making the announcement at a rally in Indianapolis.

He said that he was making the early choice for VP because voters deserved to “know what you will get.”

Presidential candidates usually wait until after they lock up the nomination to name a running mate.

Mr. Cruz is betting big on Indiana’s March 3 primary. He has portrayed it as a “crossroads” that will determine the course taken by the presidential race and the country.

Still, he started out in Indiana down in the polls by about 6 points and facing increasingly long odds for blocking Mr. Trump from locking up the nomination even if the senator can score a come-from-behind victory in the Hoosier State.

At this point Mr. Cruz’s only path to the nomination is through a contested July convention in Cleveland, where he could potentially win after multiple ballots.

That’s also the only available strategy for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who agreed to stop campaigning in Indiana to give Mr. Cruz a one-on-one contest against Mr. Trump.

“I would say it’s a jump ball, but Trump is in the stronger position,” Jennifer Hallowell, a Republican strategist in Indiana, said of Mr. Cruz’s position in the state.

“The wild card is the impact of this Cruz-Kasich deal. Based on what I’ve seen and heard in the last couple of days, a lot of voters are turned off by that,” she said. “Kasich supporters I’ve spoken with may still plan to vote for Gov. Kasich. But some are so turned off by the deal that they are planning to vote for Donald Trump.”

Indeed, some Cruz voters in Maryland said they switched their vote to Mr. Trump on Tuesday in protest of the deal, whereby Mr. Kasich pulled out of Indiana and Mr. Cruz stopped campaigning in Oregon and New Mexico.

At the rally Mrs. Fiorina took the stage to declare that the GOP race was far from over, despite the commentary from the media and “establishment elites” that Mr. Trump had won.

“I’ve had tough fights all my life. Tough fights don’t worry me a bit,” she said.

Mrs. Fiorina, who endorsed Mr. Cruz last month, left the 2016 GOP presidential race in February after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

She echoed Mr. Cruz’s line that Mr. Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are both liberals and “two sides of the same coin.”

“They are not going to challenge the system. They are the system,” said Mrs. Fiorina.

Putting her on the ticket was as much about changing the conversation surrounding the race as about gaining an advantage in particular states.

The Cruz campaign surely hopes she also will provide a boost in Indiana and California, where she has strong ties but lost a U.S. Senate race in 2010. The primaries in Indiana and California are critical to the effort to stop Mr. Trump.

Still, Mr. Cruz would have to win huge victories in Indiana and California, as well as pick up delegates in other Western states, to prevent Mr. Trump from capturing the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination.

Mr. Cruz needed to do something big and do it quickly to change the dynamics of the race or at least draw attention away from Mr. Trump.

Republican political strategist Doug Heye said that teaming up with Mrs. Fiorina was a “smart move.”

Fiorina is popular throughout the party, and there aren’t many in the party who are. It also allows Cruz to change the conversation that he desperately needs to change,” said Mr. Heye, who has been an outspoken advocate for the #NeverTrump movement.

The VP maneuver also got high marks form Mark Meckler, a tea party cofounder and conservative activist.

Cruz is moving to put together a conservative-outsider unity ticket to make a last stand in Indiana and California. No one on the Republican side has done a better job of attacking Hillary Clinton than Carly Fiorina,” he said in a statement.

The ticket also would attract more women voters, he said.

“Ultimately, Indiana and California are going to be pivotal in terms of whether Trump wins the nomination before the convention or whether the battle goes all the way to Cleveland. Cruz put all his chips in with this announcement,” said Mr. Meckler.

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