First on CNN: Rick Perry endorses Donald Trump for president

Washington (CNN)Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told CNN Thursday he will support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee and will do everything he can do to help him get elected.

Perry, speaking by phone from his hometown of Roundtop, Texas, acknowledged Trump is not his ideal choice. When Perry was a candidate for president earlier in the 2016 cycle, he was the first to come out and criticize Trump and question his conservative credentials, calling his candidacy a “cancer on conservatism.”
“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 said Thursday.
“He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice,” Perry added.
After he ended his own bid for president, Perry eventually endorsed fellow Texan Ted Cruz, and campaigned hard for him.
“When Ted said he is done and suspending his campaign — that was the last individual who had a chance,” he said, speaking of beating Trump.
“I believe in the process, and the process has said Donald Trump will be our nominee and I’m going to support him and help him and do what I can,” Perry said.
“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” he added, saying Trump knows how to market and brand like no one he has ever seen.
Perry, speaking on the same day House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN that he was “just not ready” to back Trump, urged the party to unite behind the presumptive nominee.
“We need to come together and heal the wounds,” he said.

No third-party run

Perry, who has been urged to run as a third-party candidate, dismissed that notion as “quixotic.”
“Anyone who is considering a third-party run does not understand what is going on in this country — does not understand the anger that the country has,” Perry said.
“I don’t think it accomplishes anything,” he added. “I ran to be the president of the United States, and when it became clear the electorate didn’t want me to be president, I stepped away.”

Perry for VP?

When asked if Perry would consider being Trump’s running mate, he left the door wide open.
“I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no,” Perry said.
“We can’t afford the policies and the character of Hillary Clinton,” he added. But, Perry said, he has not spoken to Trump in at least six months.
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