Ahead of Utah Caucuses, Rick Perry Says No To ‘Anybody But Trump’ Movement & Calls For GOP To Unite Around Ted Cruz

As more key contests in the 2016 primary season draw near, so-called “establishment” Republicans are scrambling to slow the roll of frontrunner Donald Trump. And while Rick Perry, one of their biggest prospects for a bridge-burning third-party challenge to Trump’s ascendancy, is apparently not interested in running against the billionaire, he has thrown his support behind fellow Republican Ted Cruz.

As previously noted by The New York Times, the names of former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn have been bandied about by Republican elites as important players in a concerted, 100-day effort to block Donald Trump in his quest for the Republican nomination. The effort reportedly gets underway beginning with the Wisconsin primary on April 5.

For his part, Tom Coburn has bluntly asserted that Trump “needs to be stopped,” adding that he will support an independent candidate. But he has also all but ruled out running himself. Coburn resigned from his seat in Congress in 2013 to undergo treatment for cancer.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry talks about how he supports Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Donald Trump now refers to as "Lyin' Ted." (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Now, Rick Perry appears to have shrugged off talk that he will go head to head with Donald Trump again. As reported by the San Antonio Express-News, Perry’s former campaign manager Jeff Miller has declared that Perry would not run for president outside of the GOP. He also expressed hope that voters would follow his lead in supporting Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination. Miller also took a swipe at prominent conservative Bill Kristol and others who have called on Perry to run, noting that they were reluctant to be as assertive when Perry was an active and willing contender for the Republican nomination.

Once considered a strong contender for the 2016 nomination, Rick Perry was an early casualty of the vitriolic atmosphere of the present election cycle. Perry withdrew from the race in September, according to Politico. When he stepped aside, the political veteran told fellow Republicans that the Republican party was “in good hands.”

ted cruz rick perry
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Provo, Utah. Cruz now leads polls in Utah despite Donald Trump's characterization of Cruz as a "liat" who would be unliked by Mormon voters. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Endorsements from the likes of Governor Perry and former Republican nominee Mitt Romney appear to be giving Ted Cruz a respectable boost ahead of the March 22 Utah caucuses. Last week, Romney said he would be supporting Cruz in the aforementioned primary contest but he stopped short of issuing a formal endorsement of the candidate. According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, a recent poll shows that Donald Trump has slipped to third place in the pursuit of Utah’s 40 delegates, while Ted Cruz maintains a significant lead in that race.

Donald Trump lashed out at both Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney late last week via social media. In a series of tweets, he revisited the mantra that Romney was a “failed candidate” and said that Utah voters would not support Ted Cruz because “Mormons don’t like liars.”

Trump also lampooned Rick Perry when both men were candidates, joking that Perry wears glasses “so people will think he’s smart.” The quip was an early indicator of the kind of personal insults that would become a hallmark of Donald Trump’s political persona.

[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]