09/28/2011 01:26 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2011

The Permanent Candidate: What's Driving Rick Perry?

The Tea Party movement had not yet fully impinged on the nation’s consciousness when Rick Perry stepped to the podium outside Austin City Hall on April 15, 2009, to speak at a tax-day protest. Wearing a big “DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS” pin, a black baseball cap with a hunting ranch logo, and the collar of his coat turned up, Perry swayed as he spoke, as if trembling with fervor. The crowd of 1,000 roared as Perry invoked states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment’s protections against federal overreach. Following the speech, Perry spoke to reporters—and uttered a few sentences that would make national headlines for days and weeks to come. “We’ve got a great union,” he said. “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.”

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