On Wednesday, presidential candidate Ted Cruz named former HP CEO Carly Fiorina as his potential running mate.
The timing of the announcement was a stroke of genius. By announcing his pick after the drubbing he took in the Acela Corridor primaries, Cruz was able to distract the media from Donald Trump’s gains and dominate the media cycle.
In my estimation, the most important qualities in a running mate are the ability to deliver a state (preferably a swing state like Ohio or Florida), be a tireless and effective surrogate, and remain relatively gaffe free.
One of the main drawbacks of the Fiorina pick is that she can’t deliver a state. The three most logical choices would have been Governor Rick Scott (FL), Governor John Kasich (OH), or Governor Scott Walker. Scott is on the Trump train. Kasich is continuing his quixotic quest for the White House and has repeatedly said that he would not serve as Vice President. Walker still has a few years left in Wisconsin and wouldn’t bring excitement to the ticket. Some have suggested Governors Susana Martinez (NM) or Nikki Haley (SC). Martinez doesn’t have the name identification and Haley doesn’t enjoy the popularity she once did in her state. Also, Haley leans establishment and would not be the best fit. The only members of the upper chamber that would have made sense were Marco Rubio (FL), who has the charm Cruz lacks, and Mike Lee (UT), a frequent ally and legal scholar. Rubio couldn’t/wouldn’t play second fiddle and Lee should be the Attorney General in a future Republican administration. All things considered, it is little wonder that she made it on the short list.
On the second count, Fiorina has done amazingly well on the campaign trail so far. She is one of the most articulate speakers in the GOP. She should stick to talking and not singing though. With the exception of two statements (which were blown out of proportion by the media) during her 2010 run, there are few major gaffes for the media to exploit although I’m sure opposition researchers will be pulling a few all nighters. Carly has experienced both the highs-being named the “Most Powerful Woman in American Business” by Fortune-and the lows-her ouster at Hewlett-Packard-in the public eye. She survived a media firestorm and has succeeded in carving out an impressive second act.
Thirdly, she has no Joe Bidenesque tendencies. She stays on message and doesn’t back down. When the media pounced on her Planned Parenthood investigation comments, she didn’t back down and congressional hearings have since vindicated her stance. In her capacity as a tech CEO and board chairman, she has traveled the world and established relationships with world leaders which would serve her well as Vice President.
Although she has never held elected office, she was worked on campaigns in the past and has the relevant DC connections as a result of her philanthropic and business ventures.
Last but not least, let’s not pretend that gender isn’t part of the equation. The so-called “War on Women” is so 2014 but the perception lingers in the media. A Cruz-Fiorina ticket blunts that particular attack. Fiorina would be able to attack Hillary’s record without being viewed as misogynistic. As we saw during the debates, Fiorina relishes that role and performs it well.
*One last caveat, none of this matters if Cruz doesn’t block Trump from getting 1237 delegates by June 7th.