Cruz saved his sharpest comments for reporters after he and Dewhurst exchanged words in an hour-long KERA/Channel 13 debate, dominated by Cruz's criticism of Dewhurst for "negotiating" and "cutting deals" with Democrats in 10 years as the presiding officer in the Texas Senate.
First, Cruz told reporters the "Texas political establishment" is opposing him because "there are a lot of folks in Texas who would very much like to get him out of the state legislature and send him to Washington."
Later in the press conference, Cruz named Perry, saying Perry and Dewhurst "have fought tooth-and-nail" over state budgets but "It is in [Perry's] political interest to get rid of David Dewhurst and get him out of Austin and send him somewhere else."
UPDATE: Perry responded late Friday in a statement to the online Texas Tribune, writing that Cruz "falsely characterized my rationale for endorsing my friend and conservative colleague David Dewhurst" and that Dewhurst will "overhaul Washington, block President Obama's socialist agenda and restore the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Making false statements about my motives or David Dewhurst's conservative record is a disservice to Texas voters."
In the debate, Cruz also criticized Dewhurst for saying he never supported a payroll tax, referring to a 2005-06 discussion about revising the state's business franchise tax to include a tax based in part on the size of a business' payroll. At the time, critics called it a back-door wage or income tax.
"The lieutenant governor looked into the TV camera and told a deliberate falsehood," Cruz said.
Dewhurst left without speaking with reporters.
The debate will be replayed Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 13 and KERA/90.1 FM.
(Photo: LM Otero / AP)