April 17th, 2009
03:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Perry says secession comment misinterpreted

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry is dialing back his earlier remark that seemed to suggest he was open to secession, telling reporters Thursday his state is "part of a great union."

"I was kinda thinking that, maybe the same people who hadn't been reading the constitution right were reading that article and they got the wrong impression about what I said," he told reporters as in the Texas State House.

"Clearly, I stated that we have a great union. And Texas is part of a great union. I see no reason for that to change. I think that may not be the exact quote, but that is, in essence what I said," he added.

Perry's original comments on the matter came Wednesday at a "Tea Party" even in Austin, when he railed against the federal government for what he said were infringements of states' rights and repeated violations of the 10th amendment of the Constitution - the provision that establishes Federalism. (Video below: Perry fires up 'Tea Party' crowd)

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said Wednesday as crowd members shouted calls for secession. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

In clarifying his remarks Thursday, Perry also said he has "never been prouder of Texans" for standing up to Washington, DC.

"I think you will see more and more this type of response to a government that is rather unresponsive to the people of this country and Texas was right at the forefront of that yesterday," he said.

Meanwhile, Texas Democrats have sharply criticized Perry's original comment, calling it an "attack on our country."

"It is the ultimate anti-American statement," State Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco told reporters Thursday.

Filed under: Rick Perry
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Rich Dambra

    I wonder what kind of "responsible" government has among the lowest SATs scores and the highest poverty rates in the nation? That question becomes even more pertinent when one looks at all the natural resource wealth Texas has been blessed with. It seems to me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Especially when the glass is so brittle.

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Jeff

    "Perry's original comments on the matter came Wednesday at a "Tea Party" even in Austin, when he railed against the federal government for what he said were infringements of states' rights..."

    I wonder if this statement was in reference to the 2004 Presidential election? Nah, it's okay to infringe on states' rights if it benefits your party!

    Perhaps the TEA parties could find an appropiate time and station so we can re-watch them, let's say Comedy Central!

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Richard Kotrla

    Texas, Secede Now!!!!

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Abs

    Well I have two comments, 1. Perry, it appears, is the one who didnt read the constitution or any of its amending documents becasue he clearly missed the proclemation that states Texas had forfited its right to cecead at the end of the civil war. 2. He realy did say that the union that Texas was part of is great. But he also made it very clear with his next sentence that he was threatening the possibility of a ceceasion. Ahh I love how polititions continuousely shoot themselves in the foot over and over again. they really need to stop being cowards and own up to their words!

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. John

    The guy has it right,its time for all states to tell the federal government to stick it!!!!

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Lia

    Didn't people in the state of Vermont make the same sort of comment a couple years ago?

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    The Constitution does not permit a state to secede once it is a part of the Union. The Supreme Court in Texas v White (1869) decided that the entry of Texas into the United States was its entry into "an indissoluble relation." The Supreme Court specified that only through mutual consent of the state and the United States could a state leave the Union. Unless, of course, the state initiates a revolution.

    For the love of all that is good, just VOTE and hassle your elected representatives about the issues that matter to you. That's how we do things in a democracy.

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. tcaudilllg

    Looks like the next Texas gov will be a Dem.

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Mississippi Mike

    States' rights are being eroded at an alarming pace. They need to be able to remind the federal government that we are the UNITED States not the FEDERAL States. The current administration doesn't have any respect for the sovereignty of our nation, what do they care about the sovereignty of a single state?

    April 17, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. larry

    The Texas governor is not only a liar, he is a coward. He said what he said to a rally the rif-raf that would listen to such an obvious right-wing waco. My message to the governor is this: Don't let the door hit your backside on the out and be sure to take the Crawford Fool with you.

    April 17, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. bigboxes

    Governor Perry, what you speak of is sedition. Texas may not opt out of the Union. I believe we already settled that issue in our past. I'll be the first to take up arms when that day comes. I'm an American first and Texan second.

    April 17, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Open mouth put foot in or maybe former President BUsh can be the new president of the new country of TEXAS

    April 17, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. few

    Maybe Texas should just split into 10 states and get a few more senators in the senate...

    April 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. Kelby In Houston, TX

    I'll be he didn't expect his comments to be the topic of all of the major political shows yesterday. Now, he is trying to fix it. I am so ashamed of him. There so many true patriots who love the USA here in the Great State of Texas who are also deeply ashamed of this man who was elected to represent us.

    Steve, Columbia SC April 17th, 2009 10:41 am ET

    You critics are not listening to the people……….they are tired of federal intrusion, big government, criminal spending habits, and the elitism in Washington, DC.

    What federal intrusion? Give me an example.
    Big government? Criminal spending habits? You must be talking about the Bush administration where the size of government increased dramatically and spending all of that money on that unjustificed un necessary war. Place the blame where it belongs

    April 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. Cedric

    Anti American!?!?!?

    I am an American – I am the lastest in 4 generations who have served this country in its armed forces and in civil duty, and I applaud Gov. Perry's comments.

    The right and DUTY of the people to protest and take action against and unruly governement is WRITEN in the Constitution, SEVERAL times. Gov. Perry is correct to voice the outrage of so many across this nation.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise has NO clue what it is to be American themselves.

    I am tired of our officiuals throwing around "anti-american." Government officials are not qualified to declair others as Anti-American.

    April 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. few

    Sorry I meant 5 states.

    April 17, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Pat Omaha, NE

    I was really hoping that Texas would leave........!
    It would be fun to watch them fend for themselves in this economy....maybe we could put a fence around Texas and keep them out of OUR country!

    April 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Kathy

    Gov Perry is an IDIOT!!! You would think he would know about Supreme Court cases about his state:
    Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) was argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1869. The Court held in a 53 decision that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null".

    April 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Enlightened Voter

    Why hasn't he been arrested for Treason? If bush were still president he would have under the Patriot Act.

    April 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. What's The Problem?

    So where are the treasonous statements? Personally, I think this guy's an idiot, and I couldn't care less if Texas ceased to exist, but I didn't hear anything in his speech that was treasonous. In fact, he's correct, the 10th amendment reserves all rights to the states that haven't been enumerated by the Constitution, so in effect, anything that the federal government does that isn't outlined in the constitution, and hasn't been explicitly deferred by the states to the federal government is an encroachment on the rights of states to govern themselves.

    In point of fact, the states 'have' been walked all over by the federal government for quite a long time, and the obvious result of such a behavior is what we see today, an economy in shambles and an inordinate number of people in foreclosure. As such, it is a behavior that must end. The federal government must be drastically reduced, including the insane size of our military and related defense expenditures, and power must be returned to the individual states. That's how Jefferson wanted it, and I see no reason for it to exist any other way.

    April 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. yellowdoggie

    I don't understand the people who say they need to "take the country back." From whom? Who do you think is running the country? Martians? We're all patriotic citizens, here. We just don't agree with your tactics and policies. We won, (liberals, Democrats, progressives,) and you lost. That doesn't mean it's not still ALL our America. After all, those of us who suffered and died under the tyranny and treason of the Bush administration never threatened to secede.

    April 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Lillie

    Gov. Perry is a TRAITOR! Absolutely nothing patriotic about what he said and yes, he MEANT IT!! And what do people really mean when they say "let's take OUR country back"! Isn't America one country??? Or is it only the NATIVE AMERICANS that can honestly claim this land as there's??? Is Gov Perry angry because Pres. Obama is in charge? Where was he when Bush/Cheney was driving us into the Grand CANYON?

    We're all immigrants and unfortunately some came by force!!! Gov Perry has exposed his true color and only his sheet is missing when he's in public places!!!

    Let him secede some place out of sight!!! Shame on him and he was elected by the majority to represent the great state of Texas! Scary!!!!!

    And you right wingers wonder why we don't trust the Republican Party? With folks like Gov. Perry, Rush, Laura, Hannity, Sara Palin, Fox (Fix) NEws spewing hatred 24-7...ummm explains why most folks stay away from the GOP!!
    And we ponder why the rest of the world thinks we're a bunch of nuts!!!
    Pres. Obama has a lot of work to do while dealing with bufoons that will never accept him as President of the U.S. but he is and he was elected by people who saw the world differently and beyond the color of Pres. Obama's skin!!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 17, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. tarin

    I cannot believe that a sitting governor would make such traitorous remarks. Although, with the amount of federal funds that go to Texas the rest of the nation would be better of if the did secede. Texas would really become a little Mexico then.

    April 17, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. 60's survivor

    the foot in the mouth is only getting bigger!!

    April 17, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Melissa

    Now he's backtracking as the cries of "traitor" reach his ears because he's facing the consequences of opening his mouth when he shouldn't have. What a fool. Yet another Republican to vote out of office.

    April 17, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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