Update, 7/25/12, 10:30 a.m.: Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said the organization has no position on the race for Senate Republican Whip.
Regarding the group's support of Cruz over Dewhurst, Keller pointed to an instance nine years ago in which Perry criticized Dewhurst for wanting to tap the Rainy Day Fund and other one-time revenue sources to cover a revenue shortfall.
"Facts don’t lie: David Dewhurst is an establishment moderate who fought conservatives in Austin for billions more in spending," Keller added. "That’s exactly why limited-government conservatives throughout Texas are supporting free market champion Ted Cruz."
HOUSTON — Gov. Rick Perry made one last push ahead of the July 31 runoff for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Tuesday afternoon, joining the GOP U.S. Senate hopeful at a news conference and describing former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz as having “no record.”
Speaking at the headquarters of a digital imaging company in Houston a day after the last televised debate of the race, Perry and Dewhurst touted the state’s economic success as good reason for voters to select Dewhurst to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.
“I’m not a candidate, just another voter right now,” Perry said. “So one voter to another, I thought I’d make one final pitch to the people of the state of Texas to support my friend, my partner and a great conservative leader in Texas, David Dewhurst.”
Perry made a point to hit back against comments made by Cruz and his supporters that conservative measures passed by the Legislature in recent years happened in spite of Dewhurst's leadership or even over Dewhurst’s objections, rather than as a result of Dewhurst's efforts. Perry described Dewhurst as a "faithful, loyal conservative partner."
Perry never mentioned Cruz by name, but he made clear how little he thought of Cruz's resume.
“The idea we’re going to send someone without a record, in the case of his opponent, versus someone who has a record, to me this is pretty easy," Perry said. "This is a proven fiscal conservative, social conservative par excellence.”
When asked if the runoff was also a referendum on Perry’s record, Perry declined to answer, instead describing the race as “a referendum on how an outside group has come into Texas with no regard to the state.”
Repeating a charge he first made Monday in Austin, Perry accused the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth, a group that has spent millions supporting Cruz, of backing Cruz because they want to see U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina move up in the Senate Republican leadership over U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. Dewhurst has said he would support Cornyn in such an election. Cruz has said declaring who he would support before joining the Senate would be “presumptuous.”
“It is clear to me that Club for Growth has a substantial more interest in who’s going to be the leader in the Senate, whether it’s the whip or the majority leader, etc., than they are in how Texas is doing,” Perry said.
Perry and Dewhurst appeared chummy with one another throughout the event. At one point, Dewhurst described himself as “the most conservative lieutenant governor in the history of the state of Texas,” then looked at Perry and added, “with the possible exception of ...”
“I was only there for a year,” Perry said with a wave of his hand. “I’ll give you that title.”
Immediately after the news conference, the Dewhurst campaign posted its latest TV ad online, an edited version of one used during the primary featuring Perry praising Dewhurst’s conservative record.