Wednesday afternoon, Ted Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate at a rally in Indiana. A Hoosier State victory is crucial to the struggling campaign’s strategy of denying Donald Trump the 1,237 delegates necessary for a first-vote nomination at the Republican National Convention. Cruz is mathematically eliminated from reaching that number himself, so he has surrendered New Mexico and Oregon to John Kasich in order to focus on Indiana’s 57 delegates.
Only 23 percent of women have a positive view of Trump, a field of voters that is ripe for harvesting by a Cruz/Fiorina ticket. Their campaign has obviously determined that GOP female voters, in Indiana and elsewhere, are the key to victory. Today’s rally provided all the proof one needs of that fact.
Start with the stagecraft of the rally. Females of varying ages dominated the crowd behind the two speakers by a factor of ten to one. The only males were children. And then look to the content, starting with Cruz:
“[Carly] is an extraordinary leader. She started working as a secretary at a small firm and she climbed the corporate ladder to become the CEO of the largest technology company in the world. The first CEO in history of a Fortune 20 company.”
“A graduate of Stanford and MIT, Carly is brilliant and capable and yet she experienced the hard-scrabble world of being a woman professional in a business world that extracts a price. I say that as a son of a pioneering computer programmer, my mother, who started in the computer industry in the 1950s. I say that as the husband of my wife, Heidi Cruz, who spent two decades in the business world.”
“Over and over again, Carly has shattered glass ceilings. But in addition to being a woman of extraordinary intelligence, she is also a woman of deep principle.”
“[I]n one of the earliest debates, Carly confronted Donald Trump. A man who in his characteristic understatement said of her, ‘look at that face.’ And every one of us remembers the grace, the class, the élan with which Carly responded to Donald. That she knew exactly what he was saying and that every woman in America knew exactly what Donald Trump was saying… [Bullies] don’t know what to do when a strong, powerful woman stands up and says ‘I am not afraid.’”
“As a son who was by my mother’s side when she battled breast cancer, I know first hand how devastating that disease can be and I know what a testament it is to her strength and grit and fortitude that she came roaring back ready to conquer the world.”
“Carly has known tragedy, including the loss of her step daughter to a drug overdose… Maybe that’s why Carly isn’t intimidated by bullies. Because she’s faced challenges a lot worse than someone bellowing and yelling and insulting her face.”
“Heidi and I have become friends with Carly. .. our girls, Caroline and Catherine, have come to adore Carly. On the bus on the campaign trail, Carly makes up songs and sings them to Caroline and Catherine. And our girls, and mind you they are eight and five, both regularly text Carly.”
Once Fiorina took the stage, she charmingly shared one of those songs she sings to the Cruz girls.
Some pundits didn’t care for Carly’s singing, but they aren’t her audience – the moms and grandmas of Indiana are. In the rest of her speech, Fiorina continued the outreach to these crucial women:
“When I was a little girl, just eight years old, I was in Sunday school one morning. My mother was my Sunday school teacher that year and she looked at me and the rest of her class and she said, ‘What you are is God’s gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to God.’”
“I can tell you that indeed, each of us, all of us are gifted by God. Each of us and all of us have the capacity and the desire to live lives of dignity and purpose and meaning. And we know, and it has always been true, that work done well brings us dignity, and family brings us purpose, and faith gives meaning to our lives.”
“I am keenly aware that it is only in this nation that a young woman can start out the way I did: typing, filing, answering the phones for a nine-person real estate agency. One day go on and become the chief executive of what would turn into the largest technology company in the world, run for the President of the United States, and run now for the vice presidency of the United States.”
Another interesting facet of the rally was the pair’s characterization of their opponents. Cruz/Fiorina isn’t running against Trump or Clinton, but rather Trump/Clinton: Two “big-government New York liberals” who should not represent the Republican Party.
The Indiana primary is Tuesday. Female Hoosiers will decide if they want Carly or The Donald to represent them.