INDIANAPOLIS U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, looking to slow front-runner Donald Trump's momentum, was expected to announce on Wednesday that former business executive Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential running mate if he wins his party's nomination, media reports said.
The reports by WMUR, an ABC station in Manchester, New Hampshire, and other news outlets followed a statement from Cruz that he would make a major announcement at a 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) rally. He gave no further details.
Fiorina, 61, endorsed Cruz, a 45-year-old U.S. senator from Texas, for the nomination in March, one month after she dropped her own White House bid. She has been a sharp critic on the campaign trail of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The unusually early announcement of a running mate appeared to be a bid by Cruz to recover from Tuesday's crushing losses to Trump, who swept nominating contests in five U.S. Northeastern states and moved closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination at the July 18-21 Republican convention in Cleveland. The nominee will face the Democrats' pick in November's general election.
Traditionally, the winners of the Republican and Democratic presidential races announce their running mates in the period between clinching the nomination and the summer national conventions.
But Cruz needs a boost after Tuesday's drubbing by Trump, 69, in all five states that held primary elections: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The choice of Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard Co chief executive, could help Cruz with women voters, a group the pugnacious former reality TV star has had difficulty winning over to his outsider campaign.
It also could offer Cruz a boost in the June 7 primary in California, where in 2010 she won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. She was defeated in the subsequent general election by incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.
In a statement, Trump was scornful of Cruz's decision to pick a running mate, calling it "a pure waste of time" and "a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign by an all-talk, no-action politician."
'NO PATH TO VICTORY'
"Cruz has no path to victory. He is only trying to stay relevant," the New York billionaire said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump criticized Fiorina as a potential Cruz vice presidential pick. "I think it would be a bad choice," he said, "not because she's a woman but because she did not resonate at all with people."
A breast cancer survivor who lost a stepdaughter to drug addiction, Fiorina served as Hewlett-Packard CEO from 1999 to 2005. She was forced to resign amid weak earnings as the company struggled to digest a $19 billion merger with then-rival Compaq Computer Corp.
Her campaign never took off in the original, crowded 17-member Republican presidential field, and she was mostly relegated to the early second-tier debates for low-polling candidates.
The Republican race has pivoted to Indiana's primary next Tuesday, which is shaping up to be Cruz’s best - and perhaps last - chance to block Trump’s march to the nomination.
If the conservative senator can win a large share of the Midwestern state’s 57 delegates, it will increase the chances that Trump will not be able to clinch the nomination on the convention's first ballot.
After that, many delegates will be free to turn to Cruz, Ohio Governor John Kasich, 63, the other remaining candidate, or a dark-horse establishment candidate on a second or subsequent ballot.
A loss to Trump in Indiana would effectively cripple Cruz’s bid, and increase pressure on the party to rally around Trump as the prospective nominee.
After Tuesday's voting, Trump had 954 delegates, Cruz had 562 and Kasich had 153, according to an Associated Press count that included unbound delegates free to support any candidate.
In the Democratic race, Clinton won four of the five Tuesday contests, building a virtually insurmountable lead over rival Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, who vowed to keep fighting until the July convention.
Trump was already turning his attention to a possible general election battle with Clinton, calling her "a flawed candidate" who would be easy to beat.
In an interview on Wednesday morning with ABC's "Good Morning America," he said he was not concerned that supporters of his Republican rivals would not back him against Clinton.
"They're going to come over," said Trump. "I've watched it all my life. They are angry, they're confused, and they don't know how all of this has happened, then all of a sudden it turns into love. Anger turns into love."
(Reporting by James Oliphant in Indianapolis and Emily Stephenson, Jeff Mason, Megan Cassella and Alana Wise in Washington; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)
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Published Date: Apr 28, 2016 01:22 am | Updated Date: Apr 28, 2016 01:22 am