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How exactly does Carly Fiorina help Ted Cruz? (Updated)

Today's expected announcement deputizes Fiorina to pitch Cruz to California primary voters.

Scott Olson/Getty

Ted Cruz named former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick today — a classic political move that gives the Texas Senator something new to talk about on the campaign trail after being trounced Tuesday by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

To say Cruz is a long shot to gain the Republican party nomination is beyond obvious. This is Trump’s election to lose, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver.

So why would Cruz designate a running mate now?

The conservative Texan is attempting to amass enough delegates in the remaining state primaries to prevent Trump from clinching the party’s nomination outright. The Cruz campaign has been courting loyal delegates in the hope of pulling off a coup at this summer’s Republican National Convention and emerging as the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Fiorina has emerged as a loyal Cruz supporter, one with fresh gravitas who can take the stage Saturday at the California Republican Party Convention in Burlingame to pitch him as the best choice as the party’s presidential nominee. She has called Cruz a “strong, inspirational” leader.

“California remains the top delegate prize, and her grassroots connection here matters,” said Crowdpac’s Mason Harrison, who worked on Fiorina’s failed 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate, in comments on Sidewire, an app where journalists and political insiders dissect the day’s news.

Harrison said in an interview with Re/code that Fiorina built a formidable network of volunteers throughout California during her Senate bid and managed to capture the Republican party’s nomination — despite facing established political players in the primary, including former five-term congressman Tom Campbell.

“I think she’s a terrific choice,” Harrison said, noting she would likely appeal to women and conservative voters in the general election.

Update: Cruz called Fiorina a “strong, principled leader and a woman of faith” in announcing her selection at a rally in Miami, Fla.

“Our campaign is stronger with her leadership and her voice,” Cruz said. “Her story embodies the promise that in America anyone can start as a secretary and become a Fortune 50 CEO. Carly speaks the truth with courage, doesn’t back down to the Washington power brokers and terrifies Hillary and the Democrats.”

Fiorina is likely to dust off her campaign narrative from her failed presidential bid, when she cast herself as the classic outsider, one who’s willing to do the tough cost-cutting to bring bloated bureaucracies under control — be it the Hewlett-Packard she inherited in 1999 or the U.S. government.

Silicon Valley is likely to recall Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett-Packard differently, as Re/code’s Arik Hesseldahl chronicled.

Fiorina is associated with one of her most ambitious moves: The $24 billion takeover of Compaq. The 2002 merger was supposed to propel HP past Dell to the top of the global PC market. That part of the strategy worked. But a global recession brought on by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, chilled the PC market — and the cost-cutting began.

HP began missing its earnings estimates and, by early 2005, Fiorina was forced out.

Fiorina earned the moniker “Carly Scissorhands” for eliminating 30,000 jobs at Hewlett-Packard over her tenure — a perception she seeks to correct by noting she ultimately hired more people than she fired at the company.

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