"I’m asking my fellow Texans to join me in supporting a true fighter for liberty, a proven conservative who will keep America the greatest," Abbott said. He noted that he sued the federal government 31 times while attorney general.
"Lawsuits are not enough to change a broken Washington, D.C. ... We need leaders like Ted Cruz," Abbott said.
Abbott beamed as he watched Cruz speak to an energetic crowd in Houston. Cruz called the endorsement "one of the greatest honors of my life" and praised the man he has called a mentor.
"This is a man of strength, a man of character, a man of integrity, a man who loves Texas and loves America," said Cruz. Thirteen years ago when he was interviewing with Abbott, he never could have imagined that Abbott would be governor of Texas, and he would be running for president, Cruz said.
Cruz is now backed by some of Texas's most high-profile politicians: Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and former governor Rick Perry, who campaigned for Cruz in Iowa and South Carolina. Abbott's endorsement comes as Cruz's campaign has been plunged into turmoil with third-place finishes in South Carolina's primary and Nevada's caucuses and the firing of its communications director, who shared a video that falsely purported to show Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) disparaging the Bible.
The Texas Republican's campaign is banking on doing well in Texas, but polling released Wednesday shows Donald Trump cutting into Cruz's lead in the state.
"The great state of Texas now has the opportunity to stand up and speak. You know in past elections, Texas’s primary has been late in the process, long after the decision was made … now, six days from now, is super Tuesday. Super Tuesday, I believe, will be the single most important day of this entire presidential election. I believe we are poised to have a very good night on Super Tuesday," Cruz said.
He also made a veiled jab at Trump.
“We can’t be fooled by P.T. Barnum. The time for the clowns and the acrobats and the dancing bears has passed,” he said.
Cruz, clearly happy to be back on his home turf, continually talked about Texas and its history.
"Like the Alamo in 1836, America is besieged," Cruz said. He looked at his iPhone and read a letter from William Barret Travis, who died at the Alamo. It was signed, “victory or death.”