INDIANAPOLIS (CN) — In an unusual twist, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his running mate on Wednesday, despite his having no path to the presidential nomination other than a contested GOP convention.
The move, is seen as Cruz's attempt to solidify his position heading into July's convention in Cleveland, against frontrunner Donald Trump.
The announcement comes just days ahead of the Hoosier state's May 3 primary, and a day after Trump swept five Northeast primaries, increasing his lead in the delegate count, and climbing closer to the magic number of 1,237 needed to clinch the Republican nomination.
"After a great deal of consideration and prayer, I have come to the conclusion that if I am nominated to be president of the United States, that I will run on a ticket with my vice presidential nominee Carly Fiorina," Cruz told the cheering crowd.
The senator praised Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO and herself a former presidential candidate, telling the crowd that "over and over, Carly has shattered glass ceilings."
Fiorina then walked out on stage to immense applause from the crowd of roughly 500, and wasted little time attacking Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton.
"Hillary Clinton has made her millions selling access and influence from inside the system, and Donald Trump has made his billions buying people like Hillary Clinton." Fiorina said. "They are not going to challenge the system that has sold us all down the river."
The move to announce a vice-presidential running mate prior to securing the nomination is rare. The last Republican candidate to do it was Ronald Reagan ahead of the 1976 GOP convention in Kansas City.
But with only a handful of larger primary states left, Indiana has become center stage in a fight for the few remaining delegates, a fight Cruz desperately needs to win.
Cruz's only chance at the nomination rests in keeping Trump from the 1,237 delegate target. That will result in a contested Republican convention, and again make it possible for Cruz to secure the nomination.
In the event of a contested conviction, delegates would become unbound to a candidate, and able to switch sides, if they fail to reach a consensus in the first round of voting.
Cruz did not shy away from his having to snatch a victory away from Trump in this way, telling his supporters, ""I'm not getting to 1,237 delegates, and Donald J. Trump is not getting to 1,237 delegates," Cruz said. "And the Hoosier state is going to have a powerful voice in making that clear."
The new running mates raised similar themes during their respective remarks, championing for small businesses and smaller government, "power concentrated, is power abused," Fiorina said.
Jonathon Price, a long time Cruz supporter, praised the choice of Fiorina, saying that like Cruz, she had a "consistent ideology" and that both candidates were "real Republicans."
Another Cruz supporter who sat with her great granddaughter on her lap, said she supported the Texas senator, because Trump, "sounded like Obama."
Trump wasted no time responding to the announcement on social media by posting a four-second clip to his Twitter page, which shows an old CNN interview where Fiorina said, "Ted Cruz is just like any other politician, he says whatever he needs to say to get elected."
Prior to suspending her own bid for the presidency in February, Fiorina sparred with Trump repeatedly, particularly after he made an ill-advised and heavily criticized comment about her looks.
During Wednesday's Rally, Fiorina continued to hammer home the Cruz campaign's message that Trump is not a "real" conservative by saying, "He doesn't represent me, and he doesn't represent my party!"
In 1976, Reagan chose then-Sen. Richard Schweiker as his running mate hoping the Pennsylvanian's liberal credentials would broaden the appeal of his ticket.
The move backfired, causing an insurrection by GOP conservatives, and ultimately doomed his quest for the nomination.
Cruz hoped to avoid similar problems by picking Fiorina, who has already been campaigning with him and speaking on his behalf for several weeks.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.