Earlier today, Ted Cruz’s beleaguered campaign sent word that the candidate would make a “major announcement” this afternoon in Indiana, and all indications are that New Hampshire’s WMUR was correct in its scoop about what that means: Cruz will announce that, should he win the Republican nomination, he will ask Carly Fiorina to be his running mate.
What’s surprising about this is the timing, of course, rather than the choice itself. Fiorina was among the 17 candidates for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, and having dropped out after the New Hampshire primary, she announced her support for Cruz in March. The former Hewlett Packard CEO certainly would have been expected to be on Cruz’s shortlist, because though her own bid came up short, she is well-equipped to play the “attack dog” role that running mates sometimes adopt—not just against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee, but against Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner.
It’s highly unorthodox, though, for Cruz to announce his running-mate pick at this point, since he has yet to secure the nomination and is seemingly unlikely to do so, especially after yesterday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—in which Trump won not just every state, but, to their enduring ignominy, every county in each of those states. And the fact that Cruz and Fiorina are set to announce their agreement in Indianapolis underlines the obvious implication: Cruz is trying to give his campaign a boost before next week’s increasingly crucial Indiana primary.
With that said, I’m hard-pressed to fault Cruz for this Hail Mary. His prospects of winning the nomination are, at this point, not excessively auspicious, but still—would we prefer him to admit defeat, pack it in, and begin making preparations for 2020? That would, perhaps, be a shrewd play on his part. But it would also, under the circumstances, be a serious blow to both the party and the nation. It may be too late for Cruz to stop Trump from winning. But no one with any commitment to our civic health should resent him for trying.