Rick Perry torches Donald Trump as he drops out of 2016 race
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
As he did so, he made it abundantly clear that he is still not a fan of real-estate mogul Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner in the race with whom he has often feuded.
Speaking at an event in St. Louis, Missouri, Perry repeatedly jabbed at Trump's campaign-trail controversies without using his name.
"Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ," Perry said, according to his prepared remarks. "We can enforce our laws and our borders, and we can love all who live within our borders, without betraying our values."
This was a reference to Trump's heated rhetoric against illegal immigration, which spurred a nationwide controversy when the developer launched his campaign in June. Perry previously likened Trump's immigration activism to the US' 19th century "Know Nothing" movement, which shunned Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany.
"It is time to elevate our debate from divisive name-calling, from soundbites without solutions, and start discussing how we will make the country better for all if a conservative is elected president," Perry said Friday.
Perry also bashed "celebrity" presidential candidates during his exit speech.
"For me, the message has always been greater than the man," he said in his prepared remarks. "The conservative movement has always been about principles, not personalities. Our nominee should embody those principles. He - or she - must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause of their own celebrity."
Trump has generally responded aggressively to Perry's provocations, going as far as to question Perry's intelligence and suggesting that there should be an IQ test for the Republican presidential debates. On Friday however, Trump responded to Perry's departure by praising the former governor:
.@GovernorPerry is a terrific guy and I wish him well- I know he will have a great future!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2015
Despite his exit, Perry could still have a potentially lasting effect on the race. Notably, the super PAC backing his White House bid raised a reported $17 million.
Back when Perry's campaign was still foundering, a New York Times report speculated that the money could be used to help take down Trump, whom Perry has labeled a "cancer" on the conservative cause. At the time, an adviser to the pro-Perry super PAC insisted to The Times that the effort was singularly focused on boosting Perry's candidacy.
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