Has Donald Trump finally become the “presumptive nominee” for the Republican Party? That was the question posed to former Texas Governor Rick Perry when he visited The View on Wednesday, the morning after Trump swept five primaries in the Northeast.
Admitting that Trump’s rise seemed like a “stretch” to him when he was running against the candidate last year, Perry touted his credentials as one of the original anti-Trump voices on the Republican side. When he dropped out of the race last September, he did so with a powerful rebuke of the current frontrunner.
“When you look back four years ago,” Perry said on Wednesday, “had Mitt Romney said some of the things that [Trump] said, we would have written him off and it would have probably been the end of his nomination.”
But despite Trump’s enormous political success, Perry was not yet ready to hand him the nomination. Or, as he put it, “When the football game’s ain’t over, you keep playing.” Ultimately, Perry said he believes that if Trump doesn’t reach 1,237 delegates before the convention, then there is still chance for his candidate, Ted Cruz, to get the nod. “We can’t just change the rules every time somebody doesn’t like them,” he said.
The precedent he cited—when Al Gore won the popular vote in the still controversial 2000 presidential election but the presidency went to George W. Bush—was not one likely to sit well with many Democrats. “That’s the reason we have an electoral college,” Perry said.
Later, co-host Joy Behar tortured Perry by replaying his infamous “oops” gaffe that killed his presidential hopes in 2012. Since Trump made far worse mistakes and even said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and still get votes, she asked Perry, “What has he got that you don’t have?”
Perry chalked up Trump’s invincibility to his celebrity status, the fact that he has been in people’s living rooms for years on reality television. “People are comfortable with that,” he said, while at the same time arguing that Cruz is the more sensible choice for Republicans.
From there, Whoopi Goldberg challenged Perry to defend some of the “nasty” things Cruz has said about LGBT Americans. “When you embrace a candidate like Ted Cruz, what are you embracing about him?” she asked.
Instead of addressing the gay-rights issues, Perry instead talked about reforming the criminal justice system, going back to Abraham Lincoln’s stance on slavery to paint the Republican Party in a positive light on issues of civil rights.
After a break, The View hosts asked Perry to respond to Trump’s charge that Hillary Clinton is playing the “woman card” and would barely be getting any votes at all if she were a man. “Last I checked she’s a woman, so it’s kind of like, she’s not faking it,” Perry said dismissively. “So I think this is a non-issue and one that frankly we need to get focused on the real important issues that face this country.”
Yet, after spending most of his time on the show arguing that Trump is a non-serious, reality show candidate, Perry did finally admit that he will vote for the Republican over Hillary Clinton.
“I will, I will, at the end of the day, I will,” Perry said. “Senator Clinton has a different philosophical view than I do about what government’s role is. She believes the government and Washington, D.C., needs to be even strengthened more and more power put into Washington, D.C. I disagree with that and I disagree with it powerfully.”
Perry has come a long way since last June when he was calling Trump’s candidacy a “cancer on conservatism” that “must be clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded.”