Ah, so maybe that comment by Jon Karl yesterday wasn’t as offhand as it seemed. Maybe Team Cruz leaked something to him about the VP process being underway with a decision to come sooner than everyone thinks, and Karl decided to get ahead of the curve. A few hours after the chatter began this morning, Fiorina’s staff confirmed for the Weekly Standard that she’s on the list:
According to a spokeswoman for Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and one-time presidential candidate is being vetted by Cruz’s campaign.
“Normal stuff,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, who served as deputy campaign manager during Fiorina’s bid, when asked about the process. She added that Fiorina has met with members of the Cruz campaign and has given them financial disclosures and other documentation. Flores added that “no offers” have been made…
Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart provided a statement to TWS. “We’ve already announced publicly that we’re vetting prospecting VP nominees, but no selection has been made yet. When that decision has been made, we will share it.”
No biggie. Veep lists always start out long. Maybe she’s getting a cursory vetting as thanks for her help with the campaign. But wait: According to Cruz’s campaign manager, they’ve moved on from the long list to the short one.
We have narrowed our VP candidates to a short list and are going thru the normal processes associated with picking a running mate.#CruzCrew
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) April 25, 2016
How soon until we have a pick? Maybe very soon:
Cruz not ruling out naming a running mate before IN primary, @jesshop23 reports
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) April 25, 2016
Let’s approach the question this way. If it’s not Fiorina, who would it be realistically? Rubio? I don’t think that’s happening. I doubt Rubio wants to play second fiddle to Cruz, and if he’s serious about keeping his delegates bound to him through the first ballot at the convention, I don’t know if he could even accept the offer without forfeiting those delegates in the process. Rubio hasn’t even endorsed Cruz and just recently made noise about being willing to support Trump if he’s the eventual nominee. That’s a weird backdrop for a VP choice. The other name frequently touted is Nikki Haley’s, but Haley would be a strange pick given that she famously backed Rubio over Cruz in South Carolina. She’s well liked by establishmentarians and would help Cruz reconcile some of them to his candidacy, but Fiorina’s also respected by Washingtonians. And Fiorina, I think, would be a better attack dog against Trump over the next six weeks, which is one of the qualities Cruz is looking for in making an early pick. Haley jabbed at Trump in her SOTU rebuttal but without naming him. Fiorina’s gone hard after Trump repeatedly, most memorably at the September debate. Given what he wants to achieve by choosing someone soon, I don’t know why Cruz would prefer Haley to her, especially given Fiorina’s loyalty to the campaign.
The only other option I can think of is Scott Walker, but my hunch is that Walker would rather run for governor again and ruminate about another national run down the line than hitch his wagon to what increasingly seems like a longshot bid by Cruz to win the nomination, only to face another longshot bid against Hillary. Ah well. Here’s Cruz from earlier today anticipating a lot of whining from “sore loser” Trump about his new nonaggression pact with Kasich. Note what he says about Trump’s campaign being taken over by lobbyists, by whom he means Paul Manafort and the various cronies he’s brought in while staffing up. That’s a smart argument in theory, zeroing in on Trump’s image as a populist crusader by claiming that he’s already been corrupted by the system, but I think for most voters it falls into the “Which Trump is the real one?” black hole. If you’re a Trumpist, you’re sure to the core of your being that Trump’s just using these lobbyist scumbags to gain power, at which point he’ll begin culling them through his magical Trumpy superpowers. If you’re anti-Trump then you know he’s been a crony of Washington players for years (that’s the price of doing business with “the system,” Trump will tell you) and will go on being one if he becomes president, in which case Cruz isn’t telling you anything you don’t already know. Whose minds are being changed, then, when Cruz says, “Donald Trump is the system”?