Ted Cruz has named Carly Fiorina as his running mate, should he buck the odds and receive the Republican presidential nomination. In my opinion, Fiorina was not the optimal choice either for purposes of halting Donald Trump or winning the general election.
Marco Rubio and John Kasich strike me as the best bets for the first purpose. For the second, Rubio and Kasich would be better than Fiorina, as would South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, it seems to me.
However, there’s little reason to believe that Rubio or Kasich desire to sign on with Cruz at this juncture. It might also be the case that Cruz doesn’t want one or both of them on his ticket.
In any event, Fiorina is the pick. She’s a pretty good one for at least five reasons.
First, she’s very capable. Her time as head of Hewlett-Packard was controversial, but I consider her well prepared for the top executive role in our government, more so than most of this year’s presidential field in both parties.
Second, she’s a good campaigner. She came out of nowhere into the second tier of Republican presidential hopefuls, and nearly made the first. If you watched her on the campaign trail or in debates, you saw why. Obviously, she came up well short, but so did many of her better known, better financed rivals.
Third, she’s conservative. Not as conservative as Cruz, but conservative enough to suggest that Cruz isn’t compromising his conservatism by seeking ideological balance (and probably more conservative than Richard Schweiker, the man Ronald Reagan selected in 1976 when he was trying to overtake President Ford).
Fourth, she’s a powerful critic of Hillary Clinton, all the more effective because of her gender. If Cruz makes it to the general election, Fiorina will probably be an asset.
Fifth, she’s from California and was popular with Republicans there when she ran for Senator in 2010. California is, of course, where Cruz will make what might be his last stand.
Will Fiorina enable Cruz to overtake Trump, who is ahead by 15 to 20 points? Almost certainly not.
Will she help Cruz cut into the gap to the point that he wins a decent share of California’s delegates? It’s far from clear that she will.
But Cruz had to try something to change the dynamic of this race. He has tried something plausible without compromising his conservatism.