After calling him a 'cancer' to conservatism
Former Texas governor and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry pulled a tight 180 on Thursday, saying in an interview with CNN that he would support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president even though he bashed the businessman’s conservative credentials just a few months ago. And perhaps more notably, Perry said he’s open to being Trump’s running mate—a statement few Republican politicians have made.
“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country, and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people, and he will listen to them,” Perry told the network.
The about-face comes after Perry blasted Trump during his own short-lived campaign for the Republican party’s nomination that ended in September 2015. He was the first of the 17 GOP candidates to drop out.
On the campaign trail, Perry and Trump engaged in an odd sparring match over which one of them was a bigger fan of the other. Trump accused Perry of courting his endorsement and donations. Perry’s camp fired back, saying it was the other way around—that Trump was a huge supporter of Perry.
Perry has not held back in his criticism of Trump, at one point unloading a 3,000-word speech about the billionaire’s flimsy record of conservatism that referred to Trump as a “cancer” and a “false prophet.” Trump’s candidacy, Perry said, “cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world—the cause of conservatism.” Perry also expressed outrage at Trump’s approach to illegal immigration, calling it “a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”
Trump, meanwhile, did not spare Perry from his trademark mocking. The GOP nominee once poked fun at Perry’s glasses. “He put glasses on so people will think he’s smart. And it just doesn’t work! People can see through the glasses,” Trump said during one campaign speech.
After dropping out the race, Perry had endorsed fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz, who suspended his campaign on Tuesday.
Perry’s willingness to consider serving as Trump’s vice president makes him an anomaly among established Republicans, many of whom have said they are not interested in doing so.