As you may be aware, Ted Cruz has named Carly Fiorina as his running mate should he get the nomination. It’s a pretty desperate move, and Fiorina is really not an ideal partner for him. But that got the question of who Donald Trump might select if he gets the nomination as is commonly expected.

What if he’s stuck with Ted Cruz?

It’s unlikely that Trump would choose Ted Cruz. There seems to be some genuine animus there. And beyond that, Ted Cruz would be a poor running mate on any ticket. Most politicians will do what they believe is best for them, but Cruz seems particularly inclined that what’s best for him is not to play along. For Trump in particular, Cruz doesn’t add much to the ticket that would really help Trump all of that much. Trump in particular wants people beside him that he would consider loyal, and that’s not Cruz. He would likely rather have a more submissive Chris Christie (words I never thought I would put together) than Ted Cruz.

The thing is, it may not entirely be up to Donald Trump.

Ahhh, but as you are reading in the papers, the Establishment is lining up behind Trump as we speak! That’s an overstatement, but it’s likely that after Indiana (if it goes Trump’s way) and before the nomination, most will. Not liking Cruz to begin with, they’d be hard-pressed to sign on to this idea.

The thing is, it may not entirely be up to them, either.

If and when Trump wins the nomination, it’s likely to be because he wins on the first round, with the votes of delegates who don’t support him but have to vote for him due to convention rules (and, in some cases, state laws). They are not bound to him for Vice President. Technically, the vice presidential selection doesn’t belong to the presidential nominee. This is a distinction without a difference because the party will almost always pick who the nominee wants. Trump, though, is an unusual nominee. Further, it’s entirely possible that Cruz will have more delegates loyal to him than Trump does to him. They get some pressure from the party, but they are not obligated to listen to it. And since the party itself doesn’t care that much for Trump, and are conflicted, it’s not clear that they’re going to go nuclear on Trump’s behalf in any event. And if Cruz has the delegates, there’s a pretty clear path here.

Now, theoretically, with that kind of delegate count, Cruz might be able to get them to change the rules and prevent Trump from getting the nomination altogether. This is theoretically possible, but I suspect they are not that loyal to Cruz, and unlike with the VP selection there may even be some legal recourse there. The Vice Presidental nomination, though, is pretty clear cut.

The main reason this wouldn’t happen is because Cruz probably doesn’t want to spend his political capital for so meager a prize. Not just a meager prize, but one that could actually hurt him more than help him apart from any political capital spent. If Trump were to choose him, he’d probably be more wise to decline than accept. Indications are that other higher-profile candidates (Rubio, Kasich, Haley) are poised to themselves decline.

Cruz’s calculations could be different, however, and mine could be wrong. It’s more likely than not that Cruz is going to run again in 2020. It’s often the case that the second strongest candidate in the previous round becomes the frontrunner in the next, but Cruz has a rougher road than most given the sheer animosity that the party has for him. Sneaking into the VP slot seems like it wouldn’t help, but it would keep his name out there and make it so that his failure to take Trump down isn’t the last thing people remember about him. He would become even more the “default” choice in an environment where party leadership can’t seem to decide much of anything. There’s something to be said for that.

Beyond that, he would be the first free agent Vice Presidential nominee ever. He wouldn’t owe Trump anything, and could expressly act in his own interest. He could use his platform to criticize his nominee in a way that Paul Ryan couldn’t and wouldn’t. Ordinarily that’s not such a big deal, but with Trump it could well be. If things go really south with Trump, as is not unlikely, Cruz could effectively distance himself him and become the standard-bearer for “real Republicans” by setting up a contrast. I’d have to evaluate the state laws, but Cruz could end up with more electoral college votes than Trump if he can pull faithless electors the same way he has convention delegates.

And though extremely, extremely unlikely, he could actually end up the presidential nominee! Though it would be unheard of, this is the year of unheard of things. There is a non-zero chance that in the middle of October, Trump pulls a Ross Perot and leaves the race. He may rather quit than lose, and if he quits he can claim that Crooked Hillary was going to steal the election and live out his life as a martyr. Alternately, Hillary Clinton may be able to tap into the something that he simply can’t get out of.

It’s difficult to say what, precisely, would happen if a nominee did pull out of an election at a late date. The court rulings are mixed, except insofar as they almost always seem to align with what the Democrats want. My guess is that most states would allow Trump’s name to be replaced. By whom? The vice presidential nominee would have the strongest claim. Even in states that wouldn’t allow the GOP to pull Trump’s name, at least Cruz’s name would be on the ballot.

Personally, I think that anyone who wants a future ought to distance themselves as far away from Trump as possible, and that includes being even a renegade VP pick. The party, however, appears poised to go in a different direction. Maybe Cruz, too. Though I doubt it will happen, I suspect Cruz has actually considered the matter. Right now, though, he may be more concerned with holding on to the delegates he has.

Category: Newsroom

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