Trailing in polls, delegates and votes, Republican candidate Ted Cruz tried to steal some of the spotlight from front-runner Donald Trump on Wednesday by declaring his running mate, Carly Fiorina.
The announcement, unusual for this stage of the race, did win Cruz news headlines as he and Fiorina held forth live on television for the better part of the afternoon.
But experts wondered if it wasn’t a gimmick designed to bolster his chances in the Indiana primaries next week. A loss could mean the end of his campaign for this presidential polls cycle.
The New York Times called it 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.”
Cruz is trailing Trump by 400 delegates, and with just 10 more states to go with 500 delegates at stake, he is not going to reach the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination.
Trump is calling him “mathematically eliminated”, but Cruz is staying in the hope of stopping Trump, by acting in concert with John Kasich, who is placed the distant third in the race.
They plan to stop Trump from getting 1,237 – he has 987 – and take the race to the convention, where they hope one of them will win with the help of party elites opposed to Trump.
That’s a possibility, but with Trump inching closer to the magic number with every contest, his rivals are running out of options, and a running-mate announcement was among the last available.
The Cruz campaign began teasing it with announcements about a coming announcement. And Cruz told reporters at a campaign stop in Indiana to wait for the big news.
He made the announcements in a long speech, which a presidential historian pointed out was one of the longest VP announcements ever, milking it for every second of airtime.
Fiorina, who was fired by the Hewlett-Packard board as CEO and ran unsuccessfully first for California governor and president, followed up with an equally long speech.
And then she broke into a song, which she sings for Cruz’s daughters on the campaign trail. Clips of it were doing much better on social media hours later than their speeches.