WAMP WALKS BACK SECESSION TALK…. Late last week, Rep. Zach Wamp, a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee, raised a few eyebrows with remarks about secession. “I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government,” Wamp told National Journal. Wamp went on to praise Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for also raising concerns about the U.S. government’s “oppressive hand.”

Over the weekend, Wamp walked these remarks back, at least a little.

Republican Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee wants to make one thing clear: If elected governor, the Volunteer State will remain part of the United States.

“Of course we will not secede from the union,” Wamp told reporters at a campaign stop in Franklin, Tennessee over the weekend, according to the Associated Press. “But we will also not have a governor who will cave in to Barack Obama.”

Wamp went on to say, “We’re going to be a proud partner as a member of the United States of America. But there needs to be a conflict between the states and the federal government.”

A few things jump out here. First, I tend to be uncomfortable with any sentence that starts, “Of course we will not secede from the union, but…” It’s the 21st century, for crying out loud.

Second, if Wamp is certain that secession is off the table — how big of him — why is it, exactly, that he said on Friday that state may be “forced to consider separation from this government”? Where does a sentiment like that come from?

And third, while federal-state tensions are inevitable in our system, to assume that there “needs to be a conflict” between the two is misguided.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.