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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Carly Fiorina for Ted Cruz’s VP?

Carly Fiorina is campaigning with Ted Cruz in Wisconsin this week, engendering large ovations from appreciative crowds and praise from the candidate she endorsed a few days before the March 15 Florida primary.

Because she’s become so visible in Cruz’s campaign, bored reporters are speculating Fiorina only decided to back him because there was some sort of “bargain” involving Ted choosing her as his running mate. Carly denies there were any conditions in exchange for her endorsement and remains dedicated to the effort to not Carly Fiorina Ted Cruzonly stop Trump, but make sure Cruz is positively portrayed to voters.

Tim Alberta of National Review writes, “Fiorina, who quit the presidential race in February and endorsed Cruz prior to Florida’s March 15 primary, has emerged as his standout surrogate on the campaign trail. Her engaging presence and shoot-from-the-hip style are a strong supplement to Cruz, who can struggle to connect with voters and sometimes comes across as inauthentic.

“Fiorina’s latest swing with Cruz is conspicuously well-timed, coming amid the Texas senator’s clash with Trump and fresh scrutiny of the front-runner’s history of verbally degrading women.”

Alberta added Fiorina and Cruz would not directly address the possibility of her joining him on the Republican ticket, with both saying they need to win in Wisconsin and carry on to the nomination first.

You had to figure the “Carly for VP” whispers would start at some point. The rumors just might be beginning a little sooner than anyone would have thought, especially since Cruz is still a sizable number of delegates behind Trump to win the Republican nomination in the first place.

On the surface, Cruz’s naming Fiorina as his running mate makes a lot of sense for several reasons.

First, as a fellow “outsider,” she certainly would appeal to the type of voter that’s dominated the Republican primaries thus far.

Carly began the race last summer as perhaps the least likely Republican candidate to win the nomination – or at least tied with Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore for the title. She subsequently elevated herself to the first-tier, albeit briefly, based on her innate ability to articulate the outsider message.

Second, with significant private sector business experience, she’s like a saner, toned-down version of Trump who can provide expertise on how to run a business without the charges of influence and corruption that seem to come along with the New York billionaire reality TV star.

Third, with their difference in age and gender, Fiorina presents a nice complement to Cruz without appearing to pander to any one constituency.

As a non-politician, Fiorina will be the female candidate who can fearlessly articulate the conservative reformer platform without looking like a “reach” to choose as a VP candidate. Sarah Palin certainly stirred up the grassroots in 2008 with her anti-establishment message, yet appeared young and inexperienced at the same time having only a couple years as Alaska’s governor to serve as a foundation.

Now in her early 60s, Fiorina is old enough to convey wisdom and experience to go along with a secretary-to-the-boardroom success story and a squeaky clean family background. As a conservative, pro-life woman who’s actually earned her way in the real world, she presents a huge contrast to Hillary Clinton.

Fourth, having gone through the strenuous and often arduous process of running for president, Carly has been thoroughly vetted for the job.

Again, unlike Palin when she was first introduced, Fiorina already has a plethora of practice in dealing with the national media and isn’t as likely to be overwhelmed by all the sudden exposure. She’s terrific in debates, has an excellent educational pedigree and her gift for speaking matches Cruz’s.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, bringing in Fiorina to the national ticket may help calm some of the anger generated by the Trump/Cruz ongoing feud. She’s indisputably an outsider and is fairly non-controversial. It’s hard to be mad at her…

Potential drawbacks to choosing her include the fact she didn’t really catch-on with any particular constituency in the presidential race and she’s sometimes seen as too cold to be appealing to general election voters.

I’m not making the claim that Cruz should already name Fiorina as his running mate, but she probably is being considered along with a select group of other notables. Who knows, with his endorsement, even Scott Walker might be on the short list.

Something to think about as the days and weeks go on until the July convention.

New poll shows Cruz widening lead in Wisconsin

In addition to strong support suggested by the large and enthusiastic crowds Cruz and Fiorina are drawing in the Badger State, a new poll shows the Texas senator opening up a lead in Wisconsin outside the margin of error.

Rebecca Savransky of The Hill reports, “Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has opened a 10-point lead over rival Donald Trump in Wisconsin, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

“Cruz has 40 percent support, with Trump at 30 percent, the Marquette Law School poll found. John Kasich followed with 21 percent.”

The poll was taken March 24-28 and has a margin of error of 5.8 percent.

In other words, the survey reflects a potential shift resulting from the Trump/Cruz feud over photos of their wives. I speculated Trump would come out on the losing end on this one, since there’s really no way to smear a fellow candidate’s wife and look good doing it.

Trump also looked awful in trying to defend his own actions in Tuesday night’s CNN Town Hall with Anderson Cooper. When The Donald said during the program he didn’t think the picture of Heidi Cruz that he personally re-Tweeted was a bad one, even liberal CNN host Anderson Cooper appeared astonished.

Taken together with Trump’s staunch defense of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in the face of pretty damning video evidence, it makes the frontrunner look biased and petty.

There may be other reasons for Trump’s poll depression in Wisconsin, but I’m guessing we’ll see similar movement elsewhere in the country in the coming days.

Should Cruz pull off a sizable win in Wisconsin it might be the permanent shift away from Trump that many have been anticipating for months.

One final note on the poll – it’s interesting to see how people are apparently lining up behind Cruz alone as the anti-Trump. John Kasich is in third by a comfortable margin – yet another sign he should just get out.

Marco Rubio is no longer in the race but he’s still trying to have an impact

Despite all the recent calls for Republicans to unite around Ted Cruz as the last remaining viable not-Trump candidate, Marco Rubio has largely stayed out of the fray.

Rubio did say shortly after bowing out on March 15 that Cruz was the lone conservative left in the race, but thus far, no formal endorsement of the Texan has been forthcoming from Marco.

Instead, there’s evidence Rubio is working behind the scenes to undermine Trump if not help Cruz as well.

Josh Hafner of USA Today reports, “In an unprecedented move, Marco Rubio has asked party leaders of 21 states and territories not to release the 172 delegates the Republican won during his now-defunct presidential campaign. The end goal: stop Trump, of course.

“Rubio aide Alex Burgos confirmed the plan to impact the nomination, telling MSNBC that the former candidate ‘wants to give voters a chance to stop Trump.’”

Individual state rules will ultimately determine the fate of Rubio’s delegates. Since Marco only “suspended” his campaign as opposed to formally quitting, there’s a chance he could carry the delegates into the convention and have them vote for him on the first ballot.

In doing so, it would make it that much harder for Trump to reach the 1237 delegates necessary to win on the first ballot. After that, it’s anybody’s guess as to what happens.

Who knows…maybe Marco is trying to retain some negotiating leverage at the convention on subsequent ballots, though of course there’s no guarantee his delegates would need to (or want to) listen to him after their initial obligation had been fulfilled.

Along with Rubio endeavoring to hold onto the delegates he actually won, the Florida senator is attempting to get his name removed from the California ballot on June 7.

The move likely comes as the result of Rubio’s taking 15 percent of the vote in neighboring Arizona. Marco’s votes didn’t prevent Cruz from challenging for the win overall, but he’s not taking any chances for a repeat performance in the likely critical California primary.

According to USA Today’s Hafner, Rubio’s attempt to keep his delegates even after informally leaving the race is unprecedented. It’s yet another unique aspect of the crazy campaign of 2016 to remember.

Trump campaign manager all but admits Cruz wasn’t involved with Melania Trump ad

Finally today, after Donald Trump went out of his way on Tuesday night to accuse Ted Cruz of being personally involved with the Super PAC ad that kicked off the most recent dust-up between the candidates, Trump’s own disgraced campaign manager pretty much admitted Cruz didn’t have anything to do with it.

Al Weaver of the Washington Examiner reports, “While disavowing Donald Trump's involvement in the National Enquirer story, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared to admit Tuesday that Ted Cruz's campaign had no involvement in the Melania Trump Facebook ad.

“This comes after nearly two weeks of accusations from Trump himself that the Texas senator was directly involved.”

I’m guessing Lewandowski would never say anything to the press without permission from the big boss, so maybe it’s a sign that Trump wants to move on from the whole sordid affair.

Trump isn’t stupid, so he clearly sees he’s backed himself into a no-win situation. And we all know how much he hates to lose.

My feeling is the damage is already done in the matter. The Donald has always been known for some outlandish exaggerations, but this “my wife is better looking than your wife” feud is just plain crazy.

Trump deserves much credit for running a populist campaign that’s allowed him to achieve things politically no one could have every predicted. But all along, his mouth has been his own worst enemy.

And it might be that something he’s said is finally catching up with him.

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Fiorina is different from other surrogates

She is the one who can be trusted to hit the stage or the TV screen and say the right things instinctively. She thought about why she should vote for Cruz over the others, including Kasich and Rubio, who were still in when she voted (VA), and she joined up with Cruz in Florida already loaded for bear. Here they are with Hannity, right after the endorsement (she's on at 27:40):

When you compare her forceful presentation of the case for Cruz with the limp and watery endorsements that Rubio got (like Santorum who could not name an achievement), or the muddled messages of Trump endorsers like Christie and Carson, you can see who has the clear message, and knows for certain why she is on that stage.

I happen to think she'd make a great VP, but you're right - I believe she's about winning the race and saving the country, not so much about her personal advancement.