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. Kaiden

    Rick Perry loves America, he specifically said on that day that he didn't want something like that to happen. He was merely stating the thought that many Texans were thinking should Washington not get its act together.

    Those saying that Perry is anti-amerian are nothing but sheep-herded idiots. You're making comments based incorrect statements simply because everyone else is. Get the full facts of what he said before you make a comment.

    And yes, contrary to legal opinions, Texas does reserve the right to legally secede from the Union. Of course it would go to court if that happened and the Texas vs. White would not act as a precedent but the end result would be the Texas could if it wanted to.

    Regardless, Texas wont ever secede so all the talk and hype is moot. Just let it go.

    April 17, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. yeah right

    I am ashamed of PERRY ! this Texan loves Texas, just not our Gov ! He wont ever get back in as Gov or anything else in Texas..he just cut his own throat, ruined any chance he had !

    April 17, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Jeff

    At what point does free speech end and treason begin?

    It's one thing for a group of protesters to call for secession. But a government official whose words carry political power in and of themselves is committing a political act by calling for secession.

    That said, I think most of us from more sensible states would live much happier lives if some of these people who contribute nothing to society besides obesity, guns, and really, really bad presidents would get themselves out of this otherwise great country.

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. AFN

    You Liberals dont want another Civil War. the south would devistate the North now. We reserve the right to secede. We did it before to show you yankees and we'll do it again if pressed.

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. Beth

    I think Perry is the only one who is not reading the Constitution right. Barack Obama is a Constitutional lawyer. If anyone is reading the Constitution correctly it is definitely Obama.

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. The Bu

    No, imagine, four, five, even six years ago, had a governor of any state made these same comments, he or she would have been literally run out of this country. They, at the least, probably would have been kicked out of office or recalled. It is insane that this kind of talk continues. I agree that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe, but I believe it is downright stupid to suggest secession from the UNITED States of America because you don't approve of what the Federal Government is doing. Think about all the Democrat Governors during the Bush Administration. None of them spoke nonsense like this. This guy is crazy and those who listen to him need to go get their heads examined as well. This is why the GOP is suffering so much. Because they have no alternative plans and when they come up with a plan, it's otherwordly. Get a grip, GOP!!!

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Looking for Balance

    As Anti-American as everyone is trying to make it sound (and even further, calling it treason) maybe shows you that the ideals we once held as AMERICANS are changing.

    I'm pretty sure socialism isn't American, so why not call the Democrat controlled government Anti-American and try them for treason as well.

    We do remember that the nation was founded on a Constitution, governed by amendments right? Remember the 10th? This guarantees individual rights to states and if they are infringed up by the federal government (I do believe we were set up as a nation to LIMIT the power of a national government – to make them work FOR the people, by the people) then a state may take action to correct this...even if it happens to be as symbolic as secession.

    It's funny how when Republicans try to use the Constitution and the laws set forth by our government that it's portrayed as undemocratic, treasonous and anti-American. I don't think secession is a good thing but this type of public discourse reflects that there is a growing disapproval of big government and big spending...cut both a bit and maybe we can once again find a stable balance for our government and those supporting it.

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Jackie in Dallas

    Perry, it is too late to backtrack. Your constituents heard what you said - the exact words. Isn't video and TV just a shame when it captures what you DON'T want it to? It's not likely you'll be in the Governor's mansion in Austin much longer, especially if those of us who have HAD to tolerate you for the last 8+ years can mobilize using this shameful incident as a rallying call.

    Yes, Texas is a great place. I'm proud to be a Texan, but I am an American FIRST and foremost. You regressed a full 150+ years to be digging up the states rights issue, because that cost hundreds of thousands of lives during the Civil War. I'm shamed and embarassed by you, because I did not vote for you in ANY election, but now feel vindicated!

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Jami

    Perry does not speak for the majority of Texans. In fact, this almost guarantees he loses the upcoming election.

    April 17, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. State of Tennessee

    It doesn't really matter whether Gov. Perry meant it or not. The states will not really have a choice but to fend for themselves after the US government collapses under the weight of massive debt. It was nice while it lasted, but the USA unfortunately is headed the way of the USSR. It doesn't help that every two bit dictator in the world is laughing while spitting in the face of our trainee president.

    April 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. RR

    Maybe the democrats should spend more time reading the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment and less time criticizing those who support the 10th Amendment.

    The more power the federal gov gets over states, the fewer rights we have

    April 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. lel410

    So, another politician says something stupid, and gets these kind of responses? For those idiots who blame all Texans for their economic woes, feel free to stay out the the State of Texas, we can do just fine without your brainless selves roaming our streets and throwing your ridiculous, meaningless hot aired propaganda in our faces. Texans are proud of their state, their home and their heritage. "Chistin," you don't want to pay for our "hurricane recovery?" Then don't – and we won't pay for whatever unfortunate natural disaster hits your area...whatever podunk town that may be. Don't want your borders protected? Fine! Don't protect them! Think Texans can't deal with the "terrorist" threats? What numb-skulls. The only "terrorists" who have invaded Texas to date have been northerners trying to instill their ideas in our tiny little brains. Texans are warm-hearted, generous people. Succeed from this economic, socialist mess the U.S. is rapidly becoming? Go for it Texas!

    April 17, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. john

    I just watched the video, and I think Governor Perry was using the U.S Constitution as his example. What is wrong with that? What is un-American with citing and using the U.S Constitution? So why is it, if a Governor is citing the U.S Constitution treasonous?

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Charles in OR

    If Texas wants to leave the union, then that's fine.

    Gosh – GW could be the Emperor of Texas. Oh Happy Day!

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. j

    Seceding from the union, how patriotic. Shows just how big a hypocrite Republicans can be. Maybe he should resign instead.

    Actually I wouldn't mind if all these "tea party" idiots left the country. We'd be better off without them.

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. CHANGE we need

    Get over it…WE got a VP that cannot remember a 'web number', asks the wheelchair-bount to 'stand up', thinks showing up an hour late to work is 'okay' and thinks his boss's name is 'Barack America'.

    If you are going to harp and criticize everything everyone says, this is going to be a long 4 years…Joe the VP, alone, will give you plenty of 'headlines' to work with.

    NO, wait…maybe Perry needs to be 'watched closer by DHS'…a radical, rightwing extremist…deflect the engergy of Janet Napolitano!

    Good Job, CNN…

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. ruth

    Mr. Perry you sound like a clone of George Bush. Both of you are stupid and need to go away. Maybe Mexico would be nice. Go there.

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. Jade

    this guy is a complet idiot...no wonder we are in this mess.

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Bill

    Un-American, Un-Patriotic and just plain Un-intelligent...that's Rick Perry and the Conservatives!

    April 17, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Mississippi Man

    "government that is rather unresponsive to the people"
    If those "people" are the far right nut cases then finally that answer is YES. The ones that scream Red/White and Blue the loudest but their true color is YELLOW.

    April 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. max

    Seems to be he should be tried for treason.....

    April 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Mark in El Paso

    The man does not represent the views of Texans. He has done this to draw in the far right in order to battle Kay Bailey Hutchinson. In so doing, he has lost everyone else in the state that does not share his far right views. Utter nonsense.

    April 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. TG

    If it were to happen, I would be with Perry ALL the way. He is just tired of all the mess that big govt has gotten us into. Texas has everything that it would EVER need to support itself & is the only state that could do so & don't worry about Texas not being able to protect itself. Texas has more than you could ever know as far as protection & I do know this for a FACT!!!! Sorry if this offends anyone, but I will NEVER make an apology for my feelings!!!

    April 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Matt

    Perry is a wimp. Stand by your comments if you rae not afraid of losing the next election.

    April 17, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Jeff

    Gov. Perry remembers the Boston Tea Party and it seems like he also is familiar with foot in mouth disease. His comments are so un American and so wrong to be coming from an individual who desires the top office in the same federal government he now wants to do away with.
    Gov Palin and now Gov Perry, we the GOP are so lost right now.

    April 17, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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