From NBC's Andy Merten
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Giuliani received the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry this morning here -- his first nod from a sitting governor. Perry cited the former mayor's success in reducing crime and cutting spending during his tenure, in addition to his preparedness in dealing with terrorism, as reasons for supporting him.
But Perry began his remarks with a topic that isn't always acknowledged as one of Rudy's strengths -- illegal immigration. "There's no such thing as homeland security without border security," the governor said, asserting that Giuliani's success fighting crime will equip him to reduce illegal border crossing as president.
Perry also used his brief remarks to get in a dig at Romney, poking fun at the former Massachusetts governor's Iran gaffe at last week's debate in Dearborn, Mich., in which he said he would consult attorneys before pursuing unilateral military action against Tehran. The next president "must be able to stare down criminal elements," Perry said, "whether they're trafficking drugs or planting roadside bombs -- without dialing up their lawyer first."
And when asked whether his conservative views sync up with Giuliani's more left-leaning social opinions, Perry echoed his presidential pick's often-cited Reagan quote that "if you're my 80 percent friend, you're not my 20 percent enemy," with a bit more southern-folksy flare. Said Perry: "When I go to buy a pickup truck, if it has one option on it that I'm not fond of, it doesn't mean I disregard that pickup truck." He added that his main concern is that the next president nominates "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court -- something he said he is assured Rudy will do.
Perry's endorsement came before Giuliani spoke before the Club for Growth, at which the Texas governor -- who received a B rating from the Cato Institute in 2006 -- also introduced the mayor and told the crowd of about 100 of his endorsement. In Rudy's remarks to the friendly audience, he stuck to the fiscal conservatism section of his stump speech, calling for reductions in spending, taxation, regulation and lawsuits, while slamming Democratic policies as the reason for economic stagnation.
But during the question-and-answer session, in which audience members could write down questions to be selected and read by a moderator, Giuliani was asked to compare his healthcare plan with "Romney-care." He resisted criticizing his Republican opponent and instead targeted "Hillary-care," saying that mandating coverage will immediately causes prices to rise.
"I don't even think this is ideological, this is lack of experience," Giuliani said of Democrats' approach to health care.