Barring some last-minute machinations, Sen. Ted Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from becoming the Republican presidential nominee. Which of course makes this the perfect time for him to announce his running mate, Carly Fiorina.
Wait, what? That was our reaction, too.
Usually presidential nominees lock up the nomination before they pick a prospective vice president. What the Texas senator is really trying to do is maintain some media heat rather than letting the spotlight shift to Donald Trump, who will be the GOP nominee barring a convention fight to stop him. (Trump called the move “cute.”)
Here are five reasons Cruz’s big Hail Mary is absurd.
1. While there is one precedent for naming a running mate before being the nominee, it failed
Back in 1976, immediately before the beginning of the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, Ronald Reagan promised to pick then-Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker, a moderate, as his running mate. The move didn’t help, as many conservatives were turned off by Reagan’s choice, and Reagan ended up losing the nomination to Gerald Ford.
2. The “Coalition of Negatives”
According to Jack Pitney, professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, there’s a reason why candidates don’t usually announce their running mates before clinching the nomination.
“It doubles the size of the target,” Pitney said. “It basically opens the door for your opponents to attack your running mate.”
3. The novelty will wear off quickly
While Cruz may have succeeded in bumping frontrunner Donald Trump off the news cycle — changing the narrative from Trump’s knockout win during Tuesday’s primaries — it won’t last.
As Pitney put it: “Yay, he wins half a news cycle.”
4. Presumptuous much?
Cruz runs the risk of coming off as presumptuous and arrogant. He’s not the nominee. In fact, he’s not even close.
5. Oh, and on top of all that? Fiorina was a terrible candidate
Other than one good performance at the kiddy table during the first GOP debate in Cleveland in August, which led to a blink-and-you-missed-it bump in polls, Fiorina never managed to leave a mark in the crowded GOP field. Her poll numbers remained in the low single digits for most of her campaign. By the time she dropped out after a disappointing seventh place in New Hampshire, she was polling at a dismal 4 points.
But that’s not the worst part. Fiorina’s biggest selling point is her experience as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was plagued with layoffs and controversy. When she announced her bid for presidency in May 2015, her former HP colleagues shuddered at the idea of Fiorina managing anything, let alone the entire country.
And let’s not forget that oh-so-magical day when Fiorina ambushed a bunch pre-schoolers on a field trip to a botanical garden in New Hampshire and used them as backdrop to an anti-abortion rally. Let’s just say their parents weren’t too happy about it.
Two words: Permission slip.