Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
ALBIA, Iowa — With just six days to go before Iowa holds its first-in-the-nation caucuses, Ted Cruz has become quite used to traversing Iowa’s snow-covered roads with a cast of local Republicans. But on Tuesday, he received some new company in the form of a familiar face and fellow Texan: former Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry, who endorsed Cruz a day earlier, joined the Republican presidential candidate on the campaign trail in Iowa, talking up Cruz's stint as solicitor general of Texas and echoing Cruz's closing argument that he is the most consistent — and trustworthy — conservative in the GOP field.
"Ted Cruz is going to be the same today as he was yesterday as he will be tomorrow," Perry said while introducing Cruz at a steakhouse in this southeastern Iowa city. "This is a man who knows in his heart what that Constitution says, what it means, and he is willing to fight to his last breath to maintain it so that future generations of Americans can live in freedom."
Cruz returned the praise throughout the day and said Perry's support is further evidence that conservative leaders are lining up behind him ahead of Iowa’s Feb. 1 caucuses. Perry told reporters in Albia that he came to Iowa to “add to the edge” Cruz already has in the state, where the senator is facing a fiercely competitive battle against billionaire Donald Trump. A Qunnipiac poll released Tuesday showed Trump leading Iowa with 31 percent, closely followed by Cruz at 29 percent.
During an event inside a barn in Osceola, Cruz noted a case he worked on as solicitor general when he defended having a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds, a case in which Perry served as the defendant.
“You know, it was a good thing being Rick Perry’s lawyer,” Cruz said. “Because I’ll tell you, when you have a strong conservative governor who is standing for principle, he gets sued a lot.”
Perry also helped Cruz with swatting away some of the attacks that have come his way recently, including the charge that he is soft on illegal immigration. Perry laughed off the accusation in an interview taped in Osceola, saying there are two words that never belong in the same sentence as Cruz: “soft” and “stupid.”
Throughout the day, Perry mostly steered clear of Trump, whom he spent the final weeks of his own presidential campaign criticizing as a fake conservative — the same argument Cruz is now making. At some stops, though, Perry needled the billionaire while discussing states' rights, noting that the values held by Iowans may be different from those held by New Yorkers, for example.
Perry was scheduled to attend 10 stops for Cruz on Tuesday and Wednesday in Iowa, eight with the candidate and two without. Another top Texas Republican, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, is set to stump for Cruz this weekend in the Hawkeye State.