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In an unusual move, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz yesterday named Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the republican nomination. We get analysis of the announcement and its implications from CNN’s Manu Raju.
- Manu Raju Senior political reporter, CNN
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane is having a voice treatment. It's an unusual move. Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, yesterday, named Carly Fiorina as his running mate, that is, if he manages to win the Republican nomination. On the phone to talk with us about why he did it and what it could mean for the race is Manu Raju, senior political reporter for CNN.
MS. SUSAN PAGEWelcome, Manu.
MR. MANU RAJUGood morning.
PAGESo why did he do it?
RAJUWell, he needed to do something to shake up the race, Susan. You know, he is struggling right now. Looks like Donald Trump is very likely going to be the party's nominee and there is a very big primary coming on Tuesday in which Cruz has essentially said that this is the state that will reset the race. He thinks that he -- he knows he needs to win Indiana in order to deny Trump the 1237 delegates that are needed to clench the Republican nomination.
RAJUSo now, what Cruz decided was that perhaps naming a running mate early could, one, seize the narrative, take it away from Donald Trump and also present an attractive ticket to someone looking for an alternative to Donald Trump. You know, there are a lot of perceived benefits of having Carly Fiorina on the ticket. Of course, it's an historic pick. She'd be the first woman vice president. It neutralizes the gender factor, perhaps, against Hillary Clinton to some extent.
RAJUAlso, we head into a very important California primary on June 7, the biggest state yet to vote, and she ran for the senate in California in 2010. She lost that race, but has some support among Republicans there so Cruz clearly needed something to shake up the race, something that could put him back in the conversation and make him the clear alternative to Trump. But it's uncertain if that is going to be enough to get him to the nomination.
PAGESo it is -- he has made us talk about this rather than be talking about, for instance, Donald Trump's foreign policy speech yesterday so in that way, it's a success. How unusual is it for a candidate to name a running mate when you still have ten more states to vote?
RAJUVery unusual. This really does not happen. You know, the last time we saw something similar to this was in 1976 when Reagan was running against Gerald Ford in that last contested convention. Reagan was, of course, losing that race and then did lose that nomination contest, but before the convention, he named a running mate. But what was different then was that he named the running mate after the primaries had voted, but before the convention so that was clearly an effort to woo delegates at the Republican National Convention.
RAJUAnd that still was not successful for Ron Reagan at the time. So it is an unusual move. It's something that Cruz realized he may had need to do, but I'm not sure how much folks will see it other than being a campaign tactic, at this point.
PAGEYou know, and also if you look at the 1976 example, Ronald Reagan chose Schweitzer, the senator from Pennsylvania, where Pennsylvania had some uncommitted delegates that perhaps he thought Senator Schweitzer could bring over to his side. That didn't work. In this case, does Carly Fiorina have any delegates to deliver to the ticket?
RAJUReally, she does not. I mean, she had a relatively poor showing both in Iowa and in New Hampshire and then she dropped out after New Hampshire and so she doesn't really have much in that way. But, you know, she did have some good moments on the campaign trail earlier, you know, last year, particularly when she pushed back against Donald Trump who disparaged her when he said, you know, look at that face, criticizing her and she had a bit of a moment in that -- during that debate when she was asked about that.
RAJUAnd she said, well, I think all women know what Donald Trump was talking about. Ted Cruz referenced that yesterday when he announced Fiorina as the pick. So she does have some support and she has proven to be an effective debater, probably an effective surrogate, too, as they try to court delegates and win support in these final weeks here. But, you know, in terms of delivering delegates, nothing significant that could alter the course at this point, Susan.
PAGEShe was, of course, the only woman who was a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. It's interesting how the debate over women has really come to the fore and it will be, I think, in a battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, if that's the race that we end up having. What's happening with the discussion about women and women voters. We saw this exchange between Trump and Clinton this week about Trump's accusation that Hillary Clinton was playing what he called the woman card. What did that mean?
RAJUYou know, that's a Donald Trump -- really another one of his comments that really defined and shaped the media narrative. You know, it was a pretty surprising comment that he said that the only reason -- if she was not a woman, if she were a man, she would only get 5 percent of the vote. And you saw Chris Christie's wife standing behind Donald Trump sort of rolling her eyes when he made that comment.
RAJUYou know, Donald Trump is trying to say that Hillary Clinton only has one play, that she is a woman and that's it. She has -- he think that she has a terrible background. She's not someone who is qualified to be commander in chief. He criticizes her tenure as secretary of state. Of course, he had said nice things about her before he ran for president, but that's what he's saying right now. But, you know, Donald Trump's challenge is going to be, if he does become the nominee, is with women voters.
RAJUI mean, overwhelmingly three-quarters, almost 70 percent of voters in a lot of polls say that they have an unfavorable view of him. I mean, and that is much worse than Hillary Clinton, actually. She's about 50/50 right now in terms of favorability among women voters. So and we know that's going to be very important, particularly suburban women voters in a lot of these swing states. So, you know, it's uncertain whether or not comments like that will be helpful for Donald Trump or only add to his negatives with this key voting bloc.
PAGEOkay. So Manu, let me put you on the line here. What are the odds that Donald Trump is nominated on the first ballot at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer?
RAJUYou know, I would say probably 75 percent, at this point. You know, I caution that, you know, a lot of critics have been wrong this crazy election cycle. But I think there's a very good chance, given how well he's doing, particularly if he wins Indiana. And polls do favor him winning Indiana and California. There's a very good chance. Plus, New Jersey is another state, late in the process, that could vote for him. It's hard to see, particularly after this gambit, Cruz gambit and John Kasich when they tried to collaborate.
RAJUIf those things don't work, it seems like the Trump train is moving. It's going to be very hard to stop.
PAGEIt's been a remarkable campaign. One last thing. What's the speculation about Donald Trump's choice of a running mate?
RAJUThat is a wonderful question. It's hard to get inside Donald Trump's head, but he has said that he wants someone who is an insider, a Washington insider, who knows the process, who knows the people and that means a lot of discussion about someone, perhaps, on Capitol Hill. He suggested Jeff Sessions, the Alabama conservative senator, potentially, but it's hard to see how that would appeal to a broader electorate in a general election. Maybe Chris Christie, who's not a Washington insider, but clearly is well known to a lot of folks on Capitol Hill.
RAJUSo, you know, maybe he decides to go with a woman candidate to help with that vulnerability, but right now, you know, it's very, as you know, Susan, very well, it's very hard to predict Donald Trump.
PAGEYou know, I wonder. You spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill. We know that there are still a lot of Republican establishment resistance to Donald Trump as the leader of the party. Do you think that, you know, traditionally when somebody is asked to be the running mate, chance to be on the ticket, they say, yes. Do you think that would be the case here or do you think that Donald Trump may have some trouble drafting someone to be his running mate?
RAJUYou know, it really depends who it is. Like, if he were to go to someone, say a Marco Rubio and ask him, that would be received well from the Republican establishment, but I'm not sure Marco Rubio would want to do that because Rubio, himself, wants to run for president, probably, again one day and that may not help him, particularly if he thinks that Trump will lose, as he said repeatedly. So I think it's a risk for a lot of these folks.
RAJUBut, you know, it's also a stepping stone, something that if you want to unite the party, if you want to be president someday, and if you do well on the campaign trail, that could be very beneficial to you. Now, one thing that I should note, that I spend yesterday talking to a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill. A lot of them are actually surprisingly increasingly open to Donald Trump. They're suggesting that they could get behind Donald Trump.
RAJUSo that's been a shift among the rhetoric among folks up here, even the Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, two months ago told me that Trump would be an albatross to Republicans down ticket. Yesterday, he said that Trump could expand the map and be helpful. So there is a bit of a shift. We'll see if that would shift for the running mate, too.
PAGEManu Raju, thanks so much for joining us.
PAGEManu Raju, he's senior political reporter for CNN.
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