(CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is playing down a controversial campaign appearance for the Lone Star State’s leading Republican gubernatorial candidate by rocker Ted Nugent, who has stirred outrage with controversial comments about President Barack Obama.
"The idea that Ted Nugent has said something that's outrageous shouldn't surprise anybody. He's been saying outrageous things for a lot of years,” Perry told Wolf Blitzer on Thursday on CNN’s "The Situation Room.”
Nugent, an outspoken conservative who in an interview last month referred to Obama as a “sub-human mongrel,” appeared with GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott at a campaign stop in Denton.
Perry, who is not running for reelection, is backing Abbott in his campaign against Democrat Wendy Davis, said Nugent’s support for the Texas attorney general on the stump does not define his candidacy.
“I will suggest to you, is not what this campaign is going to hinge on,” Perry said.
Perry, who has campaigned with Nugent in the past, wouldn’t say definitely whether he would appear with him in the future if he fails to apologize.
"Ted and I have been on the stage together. He is a proud and a strong defender of the Constitution of the United States. We've all said things that we would like to reel back in. I suggest to you that this is probably one of those for him," Perry said.
Perry praises Cruz for taking a stand on debt
Perry also praised fellow Texan Ted Cruz for taking a stand on reining in government spending after the first-term senator angered many fellow Republicans by forcing them to take a potentially damaging vote politically over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
"We have to get the spending under control in this country. That's the real issue. Ted Cruz, although sometimes we don't always agree on tactics, his position of being a clarion voice about getting spending under control," Perry said when asked if he would support legislation that would extend benefits to the long-term unemployed, a partisan issue that has stalled in a Congress.
For his part, Cruz also refused to say whether he would campaign with Nugent, telling CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash that while he disagrees with the remarks, "I'm going to avoid engaging in hypotheticals."
Perry to Iowa, sparking 2016 speculation
Perry, who ran for president in 2012, has said he will not run for re-election as governor, stoking speculation that he is considering another run for the White House in 2016.
And further sparking rumors of another presidential campaign is Perry’s upcoming trip to the key early voting state of Iowa next week.
If Perry decides to run, he'll have some ground to make up among other potential GOP contenders.
A CNN/ORC poll conducted from January 31 to February 2 shows him with 8 percent support, nearly last in a list of Republican choices for a presidential nominee in 2016.