The View from the Border

Republicans in Laredo rate Rick Perry's debate performance

Lynsey Addario / VII for TIME

Republicans in Texas watch the tea party debate at Hal's Landing in Laredo, Texas, September 12, 2011.

JOE KLEIN'S ROAD TRIP

I asked Esmeralda Rodriguez Hereford why she was a Republican. "Because we believe in independence," she said. "The Democrats' message is always 'We'll take care of you. We'll give you welfare and health care and Social Security.' Republicans believe we can look after ourselves." We were sitting in a side room of a massive sports bar in Laredo, Texas. The Republican presidential candidates were about to begin their Tea Party debate, and I'd asked Randy Blair, the head of the local Republican Party, to gather some of his stalwarts for a debate-watching party. Ten showed...

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