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Ted Cruz names Carly Fiorina as running mate

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, in a last-ditch bid to slow front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum, on Wednesday named former business executive Carly Fiorina to be his vice presidential running mate if he wins the nomination.

After suffering a series of crushing losses to Trump in nominating contests on Tuesday, Cruz praised Fiorina as a principled fighter for conservative values who knew how to create jobs and would be a valuable ally on the campaign trail.

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“She is careful. She is measured. She is serious,” Cruz said. “She doesn’t get rattled.”

Fiorina, 61, dropped her own White House bid in February after a lackluster seventh-place finish in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. She endorsed Cruz, a 45-year-old U.S. senator from Texas, a month later and has been a sharp critic on the campaign trail of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Cruz’s unusually early announcement of a running mate appeared to be a bid to recover from Tuesday’s losses, which moved Trump closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination at the July 18-21 Republican convention in Cleveland. The nominee will face the Democrats’ pick in November’s general election.

Traditionally, the winners of the Republican and Democratic presidential races announce their running mates in the period between clinching the nomination and the summer national conventions.

But Cruz needs help after Tuesday’s drubbing by Trump, 69, in all five Northeastern states that held primary elections: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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The choice of Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard Co chief executive who, like Trump, has never held elective office, could help Cruz with women voters, a group that Trump has had difficulty winning over to his outsider campaign.

It also could offer Cruz a boost in the June 7 primary in California, where in 2010 Fiorina won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. She was defeated in the subsequent general election by incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.

‘WASTE OF TIME’

In a statement, Trump was scornful of Cruz’s decision to pick a running mate, calling it “a pure waste of time” and “a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign by an all-talk, no-action politician.”

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“Cruz has no path to victory. He is only trying to stay relevant,” the New York billionaire and former reality TV star said.

Trump and Fiorina tangled on the campaign trail during her White House race. After Trump insulted her looks in an interview – “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” – she sternly rebuked him in a debate.

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“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorina said last September.

A breast cancer survivor who lost a stepdaughter to drug addiction, Fiorina served as Hewlett-Packard CEO from 1999 to 2005. She was forced to resign amid weak earnings as the company struggled to digest a $19 billion merger with then-rival Compaq Computer Corp.

Her campaign never took off in the original, crowded 17-member Republican presidential field, and she was mostly relegated to the early second-tier debates for low-polling candidates.

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Some conservatives applauded the choice. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which works to elect political candidates who oppose abortion rights, said Fiorina was the “ideal” choice.

“She will take Hillary Clinton head-on,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

If she is nominated, Fiorina would become the third woman to win a major-party vice presidential nomination. She would follow Geraldine Ferraro, who ran with Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984, and Sarah Palin, who ran with Republican John McCain in 2008. Both tickets lost in the general election.

Clinton would be the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party.

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(Reporting by James Oliphant in Indianapolis and Emily Stephenson, Jeff Mason, Megan Cassella and Alana Wise in Washington; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)


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COVID-19

White House adds 20 percent increase to ‘best case’ projection of coronavirus deaths

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The White House is moving the goal posts once again. Instead of taking drastic action, like asking every state's governor to mandate a quarantine to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is quietly upping its projected death toll, just one day after stunning Americans with a six-digit death rate.

On Sunday President Donald Trump told Americans he thinks if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done "a very good job."

On Monday Dr. Deborah Birx announced the White House is projecting 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.

Tuesday evening, the number increased 20 percent.

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Elections 2016

Olympic athletes in ‘impossible position’ – Canada

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Canadian Olympic chiefs said Monday the health and safety of athletes had prompted the country's decision to withdraw its team from the Tokyo Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after Canada became the first team to announce its withdrawal from the July 24-August 9 Games, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chief David Shoemaker said athletes had been left in an "impossible position."

With public health authorities urging individuals to stay inside to curb the spread of COVID-19, athletes had been caught between a desire to heed health and safety advice while trying to minimize disruption to training programs.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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