Rick Perry's New Sidekick, Grover Norquist

As mentioned below, Gov. Rick Perry was in town yesterday -- at Manda Machine Company, on Myrtle Springs Road near Harry Hines -- insisting, yet again, that Texas need not tap the Rainy Day Fund to deal with the state's $27-billion-ish shortfall. You can watch the entirety of his speech here, and you'll see standing behind him the man you see above: Grover Norquist, founder and president of the Americans for Tax Reform -- and the man The Huffington Post only yesterday referred to as "the most powerful Republican in America."

Norquist, whose brief remarks at Manda Machine follow, is also considered by many to be the man who helped transform George W. Bush from Texas governor to United States president. From The Nation in 2001:

In November 1998, immediately after Bush was re-elected as Texas governor and began eyeing the White House, Norquist traveled to Austin to meet Bush and Karl Rove, Bush's political guru, whom Norquist has known for two decades. Norquist came away convinced that Bush, if not an authentic conservative, was at least the right's best hope. On five issues, he says -- tax cuts, school choice, tort reform, pension reform and paycheck protection -- Bush said the right things, and that was enough for Norquist. At the time, for most conservatives Bush was an unknown quantity, and his closeness to his father (whom Norquist excoriated in his book for faithlessness and errors of political judgment) made the right queasy. Others in the race, like Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer, all had appeal to the far right -- but Norquist, upon returning to Washington, started spreading the word that the right ought to line up behind Bush.