Former Gov. Perry ignores questions on how Cruz presidential bid affects his White House plans

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HOUSTON — A day after Sen. Ted Cruz announced he's seeking the Republican presidential nomination, former Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday refused any discussion of how his fellow Texan's move affects his own anticipated White House run.

Perry spoke at a Bloomberg-sponsored breakfast in Houston where he was asked about broad topics, including some politics. But Cruz's name never surfaced, and he ignored questions from reporters afterward about his potential GOP rival.

Perry, who left office in January after a record-long 14 years as Texas governor, ran unsuccessfully for president in 2012 but is expected to announce a 2016 bid in May or June.

"I think elections are interesting processes," he said during the more formal part of the program where he was asked about a possible Jeb Bush-Hillary Clinton 2016 matchup.

"Key at this particular juncture is the familiarity with the names," he said. "Having a name that's been a president of the United States and being kin to that name is probably a good thing."

He said he trusted Americans would be engaged and pay attention to the process, look at candidates' records and policies and make a choice that's based on a candidate's vision and experience and not so much on name or gender.

He also reminded the audience that at this point in 2007, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the presidential favorite and top money raiser.

Asked for his opinion of the best president since Ronald Reagan, Perry said George W. Bush, his predecessor as Texas governor, should get credit for keeping Americans safe.

"Hats off to him," he said, although he disagreed with Bush's national educational policies under the No Child Left Behind program, saying it was another example of Washington improperly forcing its "one size fits all" will on the states.

He credited former President Bill Clinton for recognizing the value of working with a Republican-controlled Congress during his tenure but said Clinton's accomplishments have been overshadowed "by all the drama of the Clintons."

"He was a practical politician who understood that half a loaf is better than no loaf," Perry said. "I think that's one of the things missing today."

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