Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and presidential candidate dropout, just endorsed her former rival Ted Cruz in the upcoming election.
In a statement, she said that she voted for Cruz in the recent Republican primary in Virginia, saying “it’s time to put a real constitutional conservative in the White House” — one who, in her view, could unite the Republican party.
There’s a lot to unpack in the political understanding of all this. But the tl;dr version is this: If Ted Cruz wins the nomination — which at the moment is unlikely — Carly Fiorina just threw her hat in the ring to join the ticket as his running mate.
The Republican establishment is trying, and so far failing, to mount a cohesive response to the seeming inevitability of a Trump nomination. To that end, there’s a movement to get behind Cruz as the only candidate who has beat him in the primaries so far. The problem is, most establishment Republicans and nearly all Democrats consider Cruz no better and arguably worse in some respects than Trump.
In early debates, Fiorina proved to be the only candidate who could throw a punch at Trump and make it hurt. With that reputation, she’s now the loudest voice in the “Cruz can beat Trump” camp. Should Cruz get within sight of the nomination — again, at the moment, this is unlikely — Fiorina will push for a spot on the ticket.
Their ties run pretty deep. Those who followed the Fiorina campaign closely scratched their heads in the late summer when a weird $500,000 donation from a Cruz-aligned Super PAC appeared in the filings of Fiorina’s one and only Super PAC. Why would one candidate’s PAC support that of another? A spokesperson for the Cruz PAC said it considered Fiorina’s message to be an important one that “is not being heard.”
If she can’t be president in 2016, she may settle for VP, in hopes of running again on her own down the road. Again, all this is unlikely. All the signs are pointing to a Trump versus Hillary Clinton race this fall. But it’s pretty clear what Fiorina is thinking.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.