Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a tea party group Sunday that he supported his lieutenant governor against Ted Cruz in the 2012 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate out of loyalty — a characteristic, he said, that is sorely missing in American politics.
During a conference call hosted by Tea Party Patriots, Mr. Perry said he endorsed then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst because of the strong relationship they had developed over the years.
“If nothing else, I am a principled, disciplined and loyal man,” Mr. Perry said in response to a question. “David Dewhurst had been the lieutenant governor of Texas for eight years. He had been a very good partner as we helped create the most dynamic economy and when David announced that he was going to run and asked me if I would support him, I had only one answer, and that was, ‘Yes sir I will because you have been a staunch supporter of mine and the vision we had for Texas, and I will put that vision up against anyone.’”
He added, “I happen to count loyalty as one of the great traits that all too often in this business, you don’t see.”
At the time, Mr. Cruz was the state’s solicitor-general, an office to which he was appointed by the Texas attorney general, who is elected to the post in his own right. In the federal government, by contrast, both the attorney general and solicitor general are appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure.
Mr. Cruz went on to win the primary in a run-off, despite most of the state’s GOP establishment lining up behind Mr. Dewhurst, and he became a rock star among tea party and grassroots conservative activists, who helped fuel his victory.
Mr. Cruz recently announced he is running for president, opening the door for a possible showdown with Mr. Perry, who said Sunday he will make a decision in the coming months on that matter.
Mr. Perry also took a dig at Mr. Cruz, and the other first term senators considering presidential bids, by warning against electing another president, like Barack Obama, who comes with no record of executive leadership.
“As governor of Texas, I wasn’t just one vote out of 100. I was one vote out of one. I decided whether a bill was going to get vetoed, or became law,” Mr. Perry said.
Mr. Perry pointed to the way in which he led his state’s response to Hurricane Katrina, to the Ebola scare in Dallas, and to the spike in unaccompanied minors that tried to illegally cross the border.
“We need a president who understands that national security starts with border security,” Mr. Perry said. “In a couple of months, I am going to make a decision about whether I will be running for president. If I run, I am going to be prepared, I am going to put my record of executive leadership up against any potential candidates out there.”
Mr. Perry ran for the GOP nomination in 2012, but stumbled badly. He did not seek re-election last year after 14 years as governor and is currently running toward the back of the pack in early presidential polls.