Rick Perry Endorses Ted Cruz

Rick Perry is endorsing Ted Cruz for President, leading to the question of why Ted Cruz thinks an endorsement from Rick Perry has any value whatsoever.


We haven’t heard much from former Texas Governor Rick Perry since he became the first person to drop out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination back in September, but he’s back with an endorsement of fellow Texan Ted Cruz:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is endorsing Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, Perry told POLITICO in an interview Sunday night.

Perry, who also sought the GOP nomination before dropping out in September, said he now sees the race as one that is between Cruz, a fellow Texan, and Donald Trump. Through phone calls and during a December day spent driving around his Round Top, Texas, home in his truck with Cruz, Perry said he found the senator to be a good listener who respects the Tenth Amendment, “knows what he does not know” and is more conservative than Trump.

“Of those individuals who have a chance to win the Republican primary, at this juncture, from my perspective, Ted Cruz is by far the most consistent conservative in that crowd,” Perry said. “And that appears to be down to two people.”

Perry, who is famously skilled at retail politics, will campaign with Cruz Tuesday across Iowa, and will join Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King to stump for Cruz again Wednesday. Perry and King will both join Cruz at a Des Moines rally Wednesday night.

The endorsement gives Cruz the blessing of the longest-serving governor in Texas history, just as the senator faces intensifying heat from other veteran politicians, including from his colleagues in Washington, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.

Perry, recalling his own experience vetoing a long list of bills early in his gubernatorial tenure, said his actions resulted in others viewing him as a “man of principle,” and insisted that Cruz would similarly be able to get things done as president, despite his current reputation among fellow senators for being a bomb-thrower.

“You’ll have with Ted Cruz that same result of, senators and others in the Washington establishment that are mad at him, find him to be hard to work with, they will find a way to work with him because they know he means what he says he means,” he said.

Perry has been dismissive in the past of the experience of first-term senators compared to governors. But he said Sunday that he has come to realize the GOP electorate doesn’t value executive experience this cycle in the same way he does.

“Gov. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Jeb’s barely making an impact out there — those are very skilled, very successful, very experienced governors,” Perry said. “But the electorate doesn’t want that. That’s why we have elections, why we democratically select leaders.”

And he is confident, he said, that Cruz would be prepared.

“He knows he’s going to surround himself with people who do have that experience, and I’m very satisfied that on Day 1, he will be ready to be commander-in-chief,” Perry said, “Partly because of the time he’s going to spend in learning what he doesn’t know, but he’s also surrounding himself with people who are extraordinarily capable and wise.”

While some may consider Perry’s endorsement of Cruz to be rather unsurprising given the fact that the two men are both from Texas and that they share, in most respects, a common conservative ideology, there are elements of the endorsement that are surprising. Four years ago when Perry was still Governor and Cruz was the upstart candidate for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Perry and Cruz were on opposite sides of a bitterly fought primary battle. In that battle, Cruz was the upstart Tea Party candidate running against Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Perry was a strong backer of his Lt. Governor and a harsh critic of Cruz, who he said would be unable to work with others in Washington thanks to an attitude that purity above all else, a theme Perry returned to in his Farewell Address to the Texas Legislature, Perry was also openly critical of Cruz’s role in shutting the government down in 2013:

In his farewell address before the Republican-dominated state legislature last year, Perry warned against those who would place “purity ahead of unity” — a frequent criticism of Cruz’s style. And Perry was somewhat critical of Cruz’s role in shutting down the government in 2013 over a health care battle.

“I’d rather see folks come together, work together to find solutions, but from time to time, you’ve got to lay the marker down,” Perry said, when asked whether Cruz could work with Washington. “There’s that old adage, ‘You gotta hit the mule upside the head to get its attention from time to time.’ I’d suggest that’s exactly what the senator was doing.”

With this kind of history, I suppose it is odd to see Perry endorsing Cruz but it seems from the reporting that the two men’s common Texas roots played a large role in cementing the deal. That being said, it’s unclear exactly how much help Perry is going to be to Cruz in the race going forward. By the time he dropped out of the race, Perry’s campaign was effectively dead in the water. As it was, it was clear that Perry had an uphill climb when he entered the race, and while there was a brief period when it seemed as though the former Governor might just be able to break through and get beyond the disaster that was his 2012 campaign, his poll numbers began to rapidly sink to the point where he was at or below 1% nationally and in all the relevant state polling. Perry tried to save his campaign by becoming the first candidate to try to call out Donald Trump, but all that did was turn him into the first candidate that Trump unleashed his attacks on, to great effect. In the end, Perry’s campaign was dying so quickly that he didn’t even both to stick around long enough to participate in the second Presidential debate.

Taking all this into account, it’s hard to see exactly what help Perry can give to Cruz going forward. It’s not like the former Governor had a large group of supporters that could potentially be influenced by an endorsement from Perry. Indeed, one imagines that the small group of people who were saying they supported Perry by the time he dropped out have already moved on to other candidates and it seems unlikely that an endorsement four mounts after the end of his campaign will have any impact at all. The Cruz campaign obviously hopes that it will hope somehow, but count me as one of those who is skeptical of the idea that an endorsement from a twice failed Presidential candidate means much of anything to anyone.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    The governor of Texas endorses the senator from Texas? Well, I’m sure that the Cruz people can breathe a sigh of relief, because it would really he been news if Perry declined to endorse Cruz.

    Does it matter? It would have mattered more if the endorsement was NOT forthcoming.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Rick what’s-his-name wants to get whatever benefit he can from backing a winner. Somebody told him one of two guys was going to win Iowa. He forgot who the other one was, so he’s backing Cruz.

    More seriously, there’s a good article in POLITICO about the four Billionaire Boys Club guys bankrolling Cruz. Three of them are Texans. Presumably one of them made it worth Perry’s trouble to break the “Cruz has no endorsements” thing.

  3. Peterh says:

    John Cornyn and Rick Perry flipped coins…..Rick lost…..***shrugs***

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Is this the same Ted Cruz who lied about losing his health insurance because of Obamacare?

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin: @C. Clavin: In a word – yes.

  6. PJ says:

    Trump paid Perry to endorse Cruz.

  7. Scott says:

    Perry is the opposite of Cruz: a no principles, semi-corrupt governor, corporate lobbyist. Says something about Cruz’ true persona that he welcomes the endorsement of Perry.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    So this is fun.
    The Ted Cruz campaign is delivering to water only to anti-choice organizations in Flint Michigan where small government zealots have managed to poison a bunch of kids.
    Now it turns out that the anti-choice activists that produced the fraudulent videos about Planned Parenthood selling baby parts have been indicted by a Harris County, Texas Grand Jury.
    Karma is a bitch.

  9. James Pearce says:

    He was going to endorse a second candidate, but…oops. He forgot which one.

  10. André Kenji De Sousa says:

    So, Perry’s only supporter is going to vote for Cruz?

  11. motopilot says:

    Was Rick wearing his black rimmed glasses when he endorsed Ted? That could make a difference.

  12. Gustopher says:

    “Of those individuals who have a chance to win the Republican primary, at this juncture, from my perspective, Ted Cruz is by far the most consistent conservative in that crowd,” Perry said. “And that appears to be down to two people.”

    So, first he limits the field to Trump and Cruz, before he makes his endorsement. Does that mean that if someone comes in a respectable third in Iowa and New Hampshire, and is a plausible candidate at that point, Perry will reconsider his endorsement?

  13. grumpy realist says:

    Do we really care what Mr. “I’m wearing glasses so I must have a high IQ” Perry thinks?

  14. grumpy realist says:

    (giggle) Santorum is having a hissy fit over the fact that the newspapers are reporting that he’s pining for the fjords.

    Dude, when you’re hitting 0.2% in the polls, fuggetabahtit. The only thing you’re trying to do now is grift the absolute last dollar from whatever doddering marks are out there. I’m sure Iowa is filled with families trying to convince Granny not to send her Social Security payment to you. There’s a word for this–and the word is GRIFTER.

  15. Davebo says:

    Abbott appointed Cruz as Solicitor in the first place so this isn’t exactly a surprise.

    The question is, if Ted were to actually be elected president would the kids occupying the Oregon refuge recognize his authority?

    Seriously though, if you compared Perry, Abbott and Cruz Governor Rick would come across as the sanest of Texas politicians if not the sharpest.

    Don’t get me wrong. Abbott and Cruz aren’t nuts. But they have counted on their supporters being nuts. And they haven’t been let down yet.

  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @André Kenji De Sousa: I wouldn’t count on that.

  17. Jen says:

    @grumpy realist: I love a good Dead Parrot Sketch reference. Well done!

  18. Guarneri says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What do you expect? He attended an advance studies workshop at HCVI, the Hillary Clinton Veracity Institute.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    What a sad pathetic man.
    You’ve been ranting for years about Clinton…and yet…nothing. Yet, in your mind, somehow that lack of anything still excuses Cruz’s bald-faced lying.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    He attended an advance studies workshop at HCVI, the Hillary Clinton Veracity Institute.

    So which paragon of honesty are you supporting…