Former Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, Politico reported early Monday.
The move comes more than four months after Perry dropped out of the race himself — and a week before the first-in-the-country caucus in Iowa. Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas, is locked in a tight battle there with billionaire Donald Trump.
The Republican race "appears to be down to two people," Perry said in an interview with Politico Sunday night. "From my perspective, Ted Cruz is by far the most consistent conservative in that crowd."
Perry has long been a fierce critic of Trump's, once calling him a “cancer on conservatism.” While Cruz avoided criticizing Trump for months, he is now blasting him as a candidate whose rhetoric does not match his record.
Since Perry ended his bid for the White House, he has spoken highly of Cruz, most recently praising his tax plan and defending him against backlash for his use of the term “New York values.” Perry was a little harsher on Cruz during his campaign, suggesting the country does not need to elect another inexperienced senator like President Barack Obama was.
Cruz and Perry have met at least twice since the former governor dropped out the race. One of their visits took place at Perry's new home in Round Top and lasted at least half the day.
Perry is expected to play the role of full-fledged surrogate for Cruz. The campaign sees him as particularly helpful on veterans issues, which he made central to his own bid, and while he spent the final weeks of his run assailing Trump, his portfolio will not be confined to that.
Perry’s endorsement coincides with Cruz’s final tour of Iowa before the caucuses. The senator is scheduled to make three stops across the state Monday — in Maquoketa, Manchester and Independence.