The Riggs Report: Cruz’s California gamble
His VP pick comes on the eve of state GOP convention
If Ted Cruz was looking to create some buzz heading into this weekend’s super-charged California Republican Party convention, he succeeded.
Picking Carly Fiorina as his running mate guarantees lots of attention at the gathering in Burlingame. The problem is, it’s likely to be the wrong kind of attention.
From a historical perspective, it’s a good headline. There hasn’t been a Californian elected vice president since Richard Nixon more than half a century ago.
As a woman, Fiorina would be able to aggressively go after Hillary Clinton in a way that a male candidate could not. That would be a useful tool for Ted Cruz in a fall campaign if he were to secure the GOP nomination.
But look at this decision for more than a moment, and it’s a head-scratcher. What kind of support does Fiorina have in California?
“That’s one way to alienate @StanfordFball and @pac12 voters!” tweeted long-time Sacramento lobbyist Richard Costigan, referring to Fiorina’s decision in January to back Iowa over her alma mater, Stanford, in the Rose Bowl.
Coming just before the Iowa caucuses, the move was criticized as pandering to voters there. But on a more serious note, before her run this year for the White House, Fiorina’s sole bit of political experience consisted of her failed run for a California U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
She was buried by incumbent Barbara Boxer, losing by 10 points. Fiorina was badly outspent and was very slow to pay her campaign debts in the aftermath of her loss.
Fiorina was hurt by revelations during that campaign that she had only voted occasionally in prior elections and was forced to apologize. That’s a difficult thing to explain to voters.
Her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard also drew sharp criticism. During her six years in that spot, from 1999 to 2005, Fiorina presided over massive layoffs, huge financial losses and a controversial merger with computer-maker Compaq. Her board grew so unhappy with her that it forced her out, giving her a rich severance package.
During her recent bid for the White House, Fiorina had harsh words for Ted Cruz, calling him a typical politician who “says whatever he needs to say to get elected.” But she has no love for Donald Trump, who made disparaging remarks about her appearance in a magazine interview.
Cruz had to do something bold to offset Trump’s long string of wins. But considering Fiorina’s baggage in California—from her time at HP and during the 2010 election—this seems more like a misstep in a state that will be crucial to the nomination fight.