clock menu more-arrow no yes

Carly Fiorina's "vice presidential bid" was the shortest in modern US history

Ty Wright; Getty Images

Last Wednesday, before a spirited crowd at an Indianapolis rally, Ted Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his prospective vice president.

But after being trounced by Donald Trump in the Indiana primary last night, Cruz withdrew from the presidential race. And as a result, Fiorina — an accomplished businesswoman — cemented an undesirable place in history:

At just seven days, her vice presidential candidacy became the shortest-lived in modern US history.

Zachary Crockett / Vox

She shattered the previous record — set more that 40 years ago — by 11 days.

Using the National Archives and Records Administration's historical election results database, and news annals, we were only able to find two vice presidential candidates who even came close to Fiorina's ill-fated bid.

Richard Schweiker (Ronald Reagan, 24 days)

Richard Schweiker.
Getty Images

In 1976, Ronald Reagan was losing his bid for the Republican ticket to Gerald Ford. In a desperate move, similar to that of Ted Cruz, he announced the man who'd be his running mate, should he be elected by the GOP.

That man was Richard Schweiker, a liberal Republican senator in Pennsylvania. His campaign slogan, "I like Schweiker," did little to inspire the masses.

A mere 24 days later, Ford clinched the nomination — and Schweiker's moment in the spotlight abruptly came to an end.

When Reagan ran again 1980, he selected George H.W. Bush as his running mate instead, and went on to win the election. Schweiker was appointed as the 14th Secretary of Health and Human Services, a position he served from 1981 to 1983.

Thomas Eagleton (George McGovern, 1972)

Thomas Eagleton.
Getty Images

In the 1972 election, Democrat George McGovern took on sitting President Richard Nixon. And in what the New York Times called a "last-minute selection," he chose a man named Thomas Eagleton to be his running mate.

A 42-year-old Roman Catholic senator with a "liberal voting record," Eagleton seemed to be a rather safe choice. However, it was soon revealed that he had been "hospitalized three times for depression" and had gone through extensive electroshock therapy and psychiatric counseling.

Just 18 days after choosing Eagleton, McGovern ceded to mounting party pressure and forced his ticket mate to withdraw. After a rushed search process, the Democratic committee selected Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to John and Ted Kennedy. McGovern went on to secure one of the most lopsided defeats in presidential history.

"Mr. Eagleton took a leading role on legislative issues like presidential war powers, the bombing of Cambodia and home rule for the District of Columbia," read Eagleton's 2007 New York Times obituary. "But history will probably remember him primarily as a vice presidential candidate for 18 days."

Carly Fiorina (Ted Cruz, 2016)

Outside of their VP bungles, both Schweiker and Eagleton went on to have relatively successful political careers — yet they left behind vastly different legacies. Today, Schweiker is remembered mostly as Reagan's health secretary, and Eagleton as the man who was only a running mate for 18 days.

Of course, selecting Fiorina was mostly a PR move for Cruz — an effort to divert attention away from Trump and remain relevant. The ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard was much less of a serious VP contender than were Schweiker or Eagleton.

Time will only tell what history has in store for Carly Fiorina's political career. But at the moment, she's not in great company.