US primaries: Ted Cruz jumps to naming his running mate

Carly Fiorina's premature nomination seeks to divert attention from Donald Trump's big Tuesday.

    Some observers say there is no down side to nominating a vice presidential running mate at this stage [Michael Conroy/AP]
    Some observers say there is no down side to nominating a vice presidential running mate at this stage [Michael Conroy/AP]

    The posters and yard stickers have already started to appear. Some say "Cruz Fiorina 2016" while others are a bit less formal but more alliterative "Cruz Carly 2016". They could quickly become collectors' items.

    In an unusual campaign, in an unusual presidential year, Ted Cruz decided to name his vice presidential running mate. It's early in the process. Candidates normally wait until they've secured the nomination until they take such a step.

    He chose Carly Fiorina, the one-time presidential candidate who has become a huge Cruz supporter over the past several weeks.

    Setting aside the argument that Ronald Reagan would not find a place in the modern Republican Party because of his views on immigration and taxation, he remains a hero to many on the right and to Ted Cruz in particular.

    The Texas senator has been known to quote, and misquote, the 40th president on the campaign trail. And he sees himself as the rightful heir to the Reagan legacy.

    Now he has stolen from his political playbook. Back in 1976, when Reagan was challenging the sitting President Gerald Ford for the party's nomination he decided to announce his vice presidential choice early. Faced with losing the delegate count, and in a desperate attempt to generate news and support, he opted for Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker. It backfired. Reagan lost the nomination.

    Diverting attention

    Cruz's intention is clear. He wants to divert attention from Donald Trump's big Tuesday, where he won five north east primaries by some considerable distance. In no state was the businessman’s share of the vote under 50 percent and in some it was more than 60 percent. That was truly a powerhouse performance.

    And Cruz needs all the support he can gather before next Tuesday's primary in Indiana.

    He still wants to block Donald Trump winning the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination before the party's convention in Ohio in July. He maintains that if he can do that Trump won't get the numbers he needs on the first ballot. Many of the delegates would then to be free to vote for who they want, not who won their state. And he believes he would eventually emerge as the nominee.

    Picking Fiorina ties him closer to the Republican Party in California. She ran for a US senate seat there in 2010, but lost heavily. Cruz has been saying for weeks that the fight against Donald Trump will come down to California. He's spent a lot of time campaigning and fundraising there.

    But he runs the risk that if he loses in what is known as the Hosier state, then his race is effectively over.

    Donald Trump has dismissed the move as a "waste of time".

    Chequered past

    Some observers say there's no downside to nominating a vice presidential running mate at this stage. But there is.

    Given Fiorina's chequered past running a computer company - it makes it harder to go after Donald Trump's business record. It means that if he were to win the nomination, he can't name a stronger running mate.

    Marco Rubio, for example, could have helped him with the important swing state of Florida. And if the Republican Convention does become a difficult and fierce battle for the nomination, the Texas Senator cannot now form a Cruz/Kasich unity ticket, standing with the only other Republican still in the race to pull delegates away from Trump.

    Few are convinced this is a move that will give Cruz an edge and create a significant political advantage. The media coverage has been overwhelmingly negative.

    The New York Times perhaps sums it up best on its front page: "Mr Cruz's decision … was the political equivalent of a student pulling a fire alarm to avoid an exam. It was certain to draw attention and carried the possibility of meeting its immediate goal but seemed unlikely to forestall the eventual reckoning."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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