Former Republican rival and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina officially endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday at a rally in Miami, Florida. Fiorina, who suspended her own presidential campaign last month, told Cruz supporters she checked his name at the ballot box in the Virginia primary last week.
“It is my great honor to be here today to tell you why I voted for Ted and why I will work hard to make sure he is our Republican nominee and our next President of the United States,” said Fiorina.
Fiorina, who promoted herself as an ‘outsider candidate’ with business experience, told the audience Cruz is the candidate that stands for conservative principles and “will never settle for the status quo.”
“It is time to unite behind Ted Cruz my fellow conservatives, my fellow Republicans, my fellow citizens. It is time to take our party back. It is time to take our government back. It is time to take our country back,” said Fiorina.
Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist and advisor to the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign, says with Fiorina’s support people are beginning to see the GOP field as a two-person race between Cruz and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
“All the bigger name Republicans are starting to pick sides. Clearly with Carly Fiorina, I’m sure there would be place in the cabinet if Cruz wins the nomination, but overall Carly Fiorina is looking to stop Trump and legitimize Cruz’s case,” said O’Connell.
Fiorina, who was the only female GOP candidate in the 2016 race, tried to position herself to be the conservative alternative to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Throughout her campaign she took shots from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump about her business record and her looks. Those comments backfired on Trump, turning off some Republican female voters, which O’Connell says Cruz is poised to gain.
“This will help soften Ted Cruz‘s image who is among some of the remaining candidates for the ‘War on Women’ meme in the election and it will also help broaden his appeal,” said O’Connell. “As this gets down to a two-man race, he needs a surrogate out there to broaden his appeal and connect with women.”
O’Connell says Cruz hasn’t really attracted female voters with his extreme conservative message but says with Fiorina’s backing he could capture some of the “fence sitting” voters who still have hesitations with choosing between Cruz and Trump.
According to Public Policy Polling in February, Cruz had 23% of the female vote compared to Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 39% support and Trump’s 28%.
Fiorina’s endorsement comes on the heels of Cruz’s latest primary win on Tuesday; The state of Idaho rounded out his seventh victory. The next primary contests on March 15 include Florida and Ohio, two winner-take-all states.