INDIANAPOLIS, (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, in a last-ditch bid to slow front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum, named former business executive Carly Fiorina yesterday as his vice presidential running mate should he win the nomination.
After crushing losses to Trump in five nominating contests in the Northeast on Tuesday, Cruz praised Fiorina, a former presidential rival, as a principled fighter for conservative values who would be a valuable ally on the campaign trail.
“Carly is a vice presidential nominee who I think is superbly skilled, superbly gifted at helping unite this party,” the U.S. senator from Texas told a rally in Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana.
The Midwestern state is the next battleground for selecting the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for the Nov. 8 presidential election and is shaping up to be Cruz’s best – and perhaps last – chance to block Trump’s march to the nomination.
Cruz acknowledged it was unusual to choose a running mate so early in the race. Traditionally, the winners of the Republican and Democratic nominating races announce their running mates in the period between clinching the nomination and summer’s national conventions.
“I think all would acknowledge this race, if anything, it is unusual,” said Cruz, 45, adding he wanted to give voters a clear choice and offer a rebuttal to media suggestions the Republican race was over.
At a nearby rally in Indianapolis afterward, Trump was scornful of Cruz’s move, calling his rival “desperate.”
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton, 68, won four of Tuesday’s five contests, building a virtually insurmountable lead over rival Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont, who vowed to keep fighting until the July convention.
In tapping Fiorina as his No. 2, Cruz was apparently trying to recover from Trump’s landslide primary wins on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The victories made the uphill climb toward the nomination even steeper for Cruz.
“I’ve had tough fights all my life,” Fiorina said after Cruz introduced her. “Tough fights don’t worry me a bit.”
Fiorina, 61, dropped her own White House bid in February after a seventh-place finish in New Hampshire. She endorsed Cruz a month later and has been a sharp critic of Clinton.
Fiorina and Cruz both said they had grown close since her endorsement, and she sang a few verses of a song she said she sings to Cruz’s two daughters on their campaign bus.
The choice of Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard Co chief executive who, like Trump, has never held elective office, could help Cruz with women voters, a group that Trump has had difficulty winning over to his outsider campaign.