After a strong debate performance on Wednesday, watched by a whopping 23 million Americans, Carly Fiorina is surging in the polls. She has eclipsed Dr. Ben Carson for second place, and is gaining on Donald Trump, as he drops banana peels from his go-kart to try to slow her down.

Fiorina gained attention for her pithy burn of Trump’s misogyny, making her the first to take a bit out of his lead, as Trump slipped while she rose in the polls. She also created a lot of chatter for her fiery condemnation of Planned Parenthood, insisting that she watched a nonexistent video of an abortion that included organ harvesting.

Since the Citizens United ruling of 2010, any time a candidate rises in the polls, it’s always highly informative to look at who is funding them. And the story of who is funding Fiorina is weird.

In early August, following a July 31st Federal Election Commission reporting deadline, Crooks and Liars reported, in an article entitled “What The Hell?,” that Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s official Super PAC, Keep The Promise I,  had donated half a million dollars to Fiorina’s Super PAC. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can read the official FEC filing, which refers to a $500,000 check to Carly For America as “Other Disbursement.”

The Washington Post reports that the FEC was “perplexed” as to why a candidate would do that, and sent a letter to the Super PAC asking for an explanation.

To make it even more puzzling, despite raising $10 million from Ted Cruz’s personal Wall Street sugar daddy, Robert Mercer, that half a million was virtually the only thing the Super PAC had spent any funds on.

Why was a large investment in Fiorina the opening gambit of the Sen. Cruz campaign? The answer to this question reveals that Cruz is unfolding a devious plot.

Cruz was the architect of the disastrous 2013 shutdown of the federal government over funding of Obamacare. Now, he is the force in the Senate behind a push to shut down the government over the issue of Planned Parenthood. Moderate Republicans considered the shutdown an unforced error, and a PR nightmare. But Cruz’s profile was elevated immensely. He went from freshman Senator to spiritual leader of the Tea Party. Now he is attempting the same thing again with a different right wing bugaboo, only now, he is running for president.

Trump is leading in the polls, and has locked down a lot of the far right support in the race. But with Rick Perry, and now Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Monday officially dropping out of the race, and huge donors about to make big decisions, the race is narrowing. Now is the time for Cruz to kill off Trump’s campaign and take on the right wing mantle for himself.

This is where Fiorina comes in. Cruz and Fiorina marched in lockstep during the debate. They quoted many of the same talking points about Planned Parenthood. Cruz started that segment of the debate, and Fiorina jumped in to end it. She argued passionately that a shutdown was necessary to combat abortion. But Cruz is in the Senate, and she is not. He can grandstand about it in a much bigger way than she can. The two were working together to bookend that segment with their points. Fiorina lends credence to Cruz’s attack by doubling its volume.

Crooks and Liars speculated that Cruz was paying Fiorina to attack Hillary Clinton, since she’s a woman, and it would seem less sexist coming out of her mouth. That is partly true, but for the primaries, it is more important that Cruz is using Fiorina as the bait. When the media asked Trump what he thought of Fiorina, and he said, “look at that face,” it signaled to the Republican donors that Trump would crash and burn in a general fight against Hillary. Cruz is paying Fiorina to get attacked by Cruz’s opponents, so they seem sexist, in order to scare donors away from his opponents.

And she is helping set the stage for Cruz’s shutdown fight in the Senate over the issue of Planned Parenthood funding, which will elevate Cruz with the right wing, as Fiorina also suffocates Trump’s support.

Cruz is letting Trump kill off establishment Republicans until the race narrows enough. Then he’s using Fiorina to deflate Trump and inflate the issue of Planned Parenthood. Cruz will emerge as the right wing warrior who stood up to Obama and to mythical horrors of abortion that Fiorina is helping propagate. Since Fiorina is funded by Cruz, he can pump her up or shut her down any time he wants.

So what does she get out of this, apart from half a million dollars to play with, so far? She is probably guaranteed a book deal, gouged speaking fees, and cushy board positions on right wing organizations that support Cruz. And if Cruz wins the nomination with her help, heck, he may have offered her the Vice Presidential nomination, so that she can attack Hillary Clinton, woman to woman.

This also reveals a deep schism between the Tea Party and the establishment in the Republican party, especially in the Senate. One of John McCain’s closest allies, Kelly Ayotte, recently challenged Cruz to explain how he had a working strategy for the government shutdown. And John McCain’s closest ally in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, is in the presidential race despite having no chance at the nomination. He seemingly joined the race in order to fire barbs at Ted Cruz for his cockamamie schemes. A Republican Senate civil war has spilled over into the presidential race.

Watch Cruz And Fiorina Bookend The Planned Parenthood Debate With The Same Talking Points:

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