Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has a lot in common with his newly announced potential running mate, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina — even beyond knowing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their rival Donald Trump’s name-calling .
Conservatives in arms
Their strongly conservative views, for one thing. Cruz is widely regarded as one of the most conservative senators, and Fiorina, although sometimes assumed to be more moderate because she grew up in Palo Alto and comes out of Silicon Valley’s corporate culture, is just as socially conservative. She’s so dedicated to the pro-life cause — an unusual posture for a Republican running for Senate in a blue state, as she did in California in 2010 — that Marjorie Dannenfelser , president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List , has said Fiorina impressed her more in their initial interview that year than any candidate ever had. During Fiorina’s presidential run, she regularly spoke about her faith in God on the trail, and criticized the business community for pressuring Indiana to amend its Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
[Related: Ted Cruz Shares the GOP’s Values]
In the presidential race, both have tried to play the outsider card, Cruz as the enemy of the “Washington Cartel” and Fiorina as a businesswoman.
They’re both highly educated and polished speakers. Fiorina has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where she studied medieval history and philosophy, and graduate degrees in business from the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cruz graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and clerked for former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Cruz’s rhetorical resume is well-documented; he was an award-winning debater at Princeton, and his persuasive polemics against the establishment have gone a long way toward endearing him to the conservative grassroots. But Fiorina, too, impressed with her debate performances early on in the primary. She’s remembered for delivering particularly punchy responses to Trump’s insults. “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she said in a September debate in response to Trump’s “Look at that face!” remark disparaging her appearance.
Their ambition is palpable. Cruz was the nation’s youngest solicitor general and the first Hispanic solicitor general in Texas. Fiorina, who’s 16 years his senior, tried to take on California Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010. She drove straight from the doctor’s appointment where she was diagnosed with breast cancer to a GOP convention where she discussed launching her candidacy, and her former adviser Fred Davis has called her “one of the most driven people I’ve ever met.”
That drive to succeed allowed both Cruz and Fiorina to achieve historic milestones for Hispanics and women, both of which remain underrepresented in American politics, not to mention in the White House. Cruz was the first Hispanic to ever clerk for the Chief Justice, while Fiorina was the first female to head a Fortune 50 company.
Me, me, me
The flip-side of that ambition, though, is that they’re both known for putting their own interests first. Cruz shut down the government in an attempt to defund Obamacare, and has no shortage of enemies in the Senate. “It wasn’t about the shutdown. It wasn’t about the Affordable Care Act. It was about launching Ted Cruz,” former Sen. Tom Coburn told the Washington Post in February.
That’s very similar to Fiorina’s reputation at HP, where as chief executive officer she upended a famously collegial culture and laid off 30,000 employees — at a time when, as a devastating commercial Barbara Boxer cut against her showed, she was having the company’s corporate jets detailed.
Both have Texas ties; Fiorina was born there, in Austin, where her law professor father’s family raised cattle and, sometimes, hell .
There are important differences, too, of course, and as a woman, Fiorina brings some diversity to a GOP ticket and balance to a general election race in which Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic nominee.
“For the 13 months of this race, there has been a proven, consistent, courageous fighter. A fighter who terrifies Hillary,” Cruz said of Fiorina on Wednesday.
Trump, of course, doesn’t see it that way. “Cruz has no path to victory — he is only trying to stay relevant,” he said in a statement responding to Cruz’s announcement.
Up until now, in the Hoosier State at least, Trump may have had an edge with Fiorina supporters. Fiorina’s former Indiana campaign co-chair is now state director of Trump’s Indiana team. Cruz currently trails Trump, who won five East Coast states Tuesday night, by about 400 delegates.
According to National Review’s Tim Alberta , “Fiorina has been on Cruz’s short-list ever since they hit it off during a one-on-one meeting at the Conservative Political Action Conference in early March,” which prompted Fiorina’s endorsement of the Texas senator.
The connection has clearly continued, with Cruz telling his Indiana audience Wednesday that Fiorina has met his two young daughters on the trail and regularly texts them with heart and smiley face emoticons.