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*--- Rick Perry endorses Ted Cruz for GOP nomination ---*

ROUND TOP, Texas - Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry endorsed the candidacy of senator and fellow Texan Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination.

Perry, who sought the nomination himself before leaving the race in September, told news website Politico Sunday, "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, and that appears to be down to two people," a reference to Cruz and GOP candidate Donald Trump.

Perry's endorsement, since he dropped out of the contest, was eagerly courted by those remaining in the race. He said Cruz reached out to him for a meeting, a gesture Perry said he appreciated. Through telephone conversations and a meeting in December conducted at Perry's Round Top, Texas, home in which the two men rode together for a day in a truck, Perry said he concluded Cruz is a good listener, respectful of the 10th Amendment and more conservative than Trump.

"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, 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," Perry told Politico.

Perry has not been as enthusiastic of Cruz in the past. When Cruz won the Texas Republican senatorial primary in 2010, Perry supported then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. In his farewell address before the Texas legislature in 2015, Perry warned against anyone who placed "purity ahead of unity," a pointed reference to Cruz hardline style of often dispensing with an interest in compromise.

Perry was expected to campaign for Cruz in Iowa in anticipation of the Feb. 1 caucuses beginning Tuesday.


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