Presidential candidate Donald Trump fired another shot across the bow of Senator Ted Cruz’ 2018 re-election campaign for U.S. Senate by praising former Governor Rick Perry as a potential opponent. Recent polls suggest Senator Cruz (R-TX) would be vulnerable to a challenge from Texas’ longest serving governor.
Speaking during a Trump fundraiser in Austin on Tuesday, the presidential candidate praised Perry as “one popular guy.”
“People love him in Texas and he was one great governor,” Trump said. “I don’t know what he is going to do.”
Perry has not yet indicated if he is interested in running for the freshman senator’s seat. A poll published by Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) firm revealed that Perry would defeat Cruz in a head-to-head matchup for the 2018 Texas GOP senate election. The poll showed the former governor with a nine-point lead.
Another poll put out by KTVT-CBS11/Dixie Strategies showed Cruz took a massive hit on his unfavorable rating after refusing to honor his pledge to support the GOP’s eventual nominee. More than 60% of those polled stated they had either a somewhat less favorable or much less favorable impression of the senator following his speech at the Republican National Convention and his refusal to support the nominee as he had pledged. Prior to the convention speech, Cruz stated he would be running for president in 2020 regardless of who was occupying the White House at the time.
“I’ll tell you what. I’ve been hearing a lot about that and I don’t know if he wants to do it but boy will he do well,” Trump said during Tuesday’s event in Austin. The presidential candidate jokingly said he hoped Perry was not going to announce his intent to run for the senate seat during the fundraising event.
“If he’s got an announcement,” Trump said, “then it will blow Trump away, they’ll say Trump was also there, right…headline. But I don’t know what he’s going to do but you are one popular guy all over, but in Texas in particular.”
Cruz’ campaign spokesperson Catherine Frazier previously dismissed the possible Perry challenge and the polls saying, “Polls more than two years away from an election are of no significant consequence and serve little more than to generate headlines to fill a news cycle.”