The Texas Senator promised a “major announcement” at an afternoon rally in Indiana, where he is campaigning ahead of the May 3 primary. Two people familiar with the situation confirmed that he will announce former contender, Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick. The Indiana contest, which awards 57 delegates on a winner-take-all basis, is now the linchpin of Cruz’s strategy to stop front-runner Donald Trump from amassing the delegate majority required to clinch the nomination and head off a contested convention.
The move comes at a crucial moment for Cruz, who is hoping to regain momentum after a drubbing Tuesday night in five northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Announcing Fiorina’s selection now is a way for Cruz—who can no longer win the nomination on the convention’s first ballot—to shake up the campaign narrative on the day after Trump declared himself the presumptive Republican nominee.
The announcement marks the first time since 1976—the most recent contested GOP convention—that a candidate has indicated their vice presidential pick before securing the nomination. That move, by Ronald Reagan, backfired when his selection of Sen. Richard Schweiker, a moderate, sparked a revolt within his conservative base.
While the timing is unusual, the selection was not a shock. Fiorina, who suspended her own campaign for the Republican nomination in February, endorsed Cruz last month and has emerged as a dogged and effective surrogate.
According to TIME, Fiorina brings several strengths to a Republican prospective ticket. A forceful and disciplined campaigner, the former businesswoman distinguished herself with her withering criticism of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Tapping a woman to lead the attacks on Clinton is a way for Cruz to avoid exacerbating his own weak standing with women.
At the same time, the selection will force Cruz to defend Fiorina’s checkered business record. As chief of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina presided over the tech giant’s merger with Compaq. When the union soured, the company shed some 30,000 jobs and saw its stock price plummet as Fiorina walked away with an eight-figure golden parachute.