Bryant, walking around the stage in his customary cowboy boots, would describe himself jokingly as "high-tech redneck."
The phrase hasn't been used during his current campaign for governor. But he's still interested in technology. One of his first acts as lieutenant governor - where he presides over the Senate - was to place its deliberations online.
At first, the Democratic leadership of the House rejected showing its sessions online, but when it became apparent that Bryant was intent on putting the Senate on the web, the House quickly followed suit.
"Both as auditor and as lieutenant governor, he has supported a number of initiatives for increased transparency in government," said Forest Thigpen, president of the conservative-leaning Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which has worked to provide more budgetary information on the Internet.
Thigpen also pointed out that Bryant formed a Senate Ethics Committee that led to the passage of legislation that strengthened the state's open records and open meetings laws.
The consistent theme during Bryant's 24 years in political life is his conservative philosophy across the board - on fiscal and social issues.
"When I am questioned about what he was like when we served in the House together, I say just look at who he is today," said Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picyaune, who was Bryant's deskmate in the House in the early to mid-1990s. "He has been pretty much advocating for the same issues for 20 years,"
Bryant began his political career with an unsuccessful run for supervisor in his home county of Rankin - a Republican stronghold that continues to be the top-performing county for Republican candidates for statewide office.
When Bryant ran for supervisor and later for the state House election he won in 1991, he was an insurance fraud investigator for a private company. He said he decided to pursue a career in public service after hearing his political hero, Ronald Reagan, speak on the subject during a trip to the White House in the 1980s.
Before working for the private company, Bryant worked for the Hinds County Sheriff's Office from 1976-81 - first as a jailer and later as chief of detectives.
In the House, Bryant quickly became one of the leading voices for Republican members. At the time, there were about 35 Republicans in the 122-member chamber. Formby, who came to the House one year after Bryant, said Bryant, "was active in the formation of the Legislative Conservative Coalition ... He was willing to stand up to the leadership when necessary,"
During that period, Bryant was a leading advocate of income tax cuts. He authored the Capital Gains Tax Cut of 1994. Perhaps his top legislative priority - the elimination of what was known as the marriage penalty - occurred in 1997, a year after Bryant left the Legislature. It was authored by Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, whom Bryant would later name as his chair of the Senate Public Health Committee to the dismay of many of his fellow Republicans.
Bryant got a big political break in 1996 when Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed him state auditor to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Steve Patterson, who resigned as part of a plea deal for charges of tax avoidance.
Early on as auditor, Bryant stressed that he would work with governmental officials to ensure they did not violate the law, saying he was more interested in good government than in making headlines.
Bryant gained his most fame as auditor for his investigation into the failed Mississippi Beef Processors Plants in Oakland in Tallahatchie County. The plant went bankrupt after receiving $55 million in state support. Several people, including the owner of the plant and representatives of a company awarded a contract to oversee construction of the facility, were convicted of crimes in federal court.
Bryant was active and vocal in the investigation and critical of the process state officials used to fund the plant. But his political opponents claimed Bryant also was derelict since he was authorized by the Legislature and provided funds to monitor construction of the plant.
As auditor, Bryant was one of Mississippi's first politicians to voice concerns about illegal immigration. His office released a study saying illegal immigrants cost the state $25 million annually, a figure questioned by some groups.
Tea Party supporter
Bryant has taken his fight over illegal immigration to the state Senate where he presides as lieutenant governor. His stance, as well as his fiscal and social conservatism, has made him a favorite of the Tea Party. He was one of the first state politicians to embrace the Tea Party.
"There are things where we will disagree with Phil and things where we will agree," said Roy Nicholson of Brandon, chair of the Mississippi Tea Party. "The thing we like about Phil is that he has supported us from day one. He has never asked for anything, and he has encouraged us to provide input."
Nicholson said Bryant's refusal to accept the redistricting plan of the House Democratic leadership for that chamber made him "a hero to me." Others contend that Bryant's break with tradition - where each chamber passed its own redistricting plan with no interference from the other house - has caused chaos, resulted in the issue being thrown into the courts with the possibility of a costly special elections in 2012.
While Bryant has aligned himself with the Tea Party, he also has worked to closely associate himself with outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour, who because of term limits cannot seek a third term. Bryant constantly refers to how he and Barbour have worked together on such issues as economic development and fiscal responsibility. But critics say the two also worked to unnecessarily hold down education spending.
And Bryant also has received criticism for being unwilling to oppose Barbour.
But Bryant did oppose the governor, albeit quietly, on some major pieces of legislation. For instance, he was opposed to issuing bonds - and thus incurring long-term debt - to build a civil rights museum in Jackson. Bryant lost on that issue, but was successful in passing legislation to require employers to take an extra step to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new hires. Most insiders believe that Barbour, even though he signed the legislation into law, did not want Bryant to pursue it.
As far as dealing with members of the Senate, the Democrat Bryan said he was surprised when Bryant appointed him as Public Health chair.
"I know people thought he had lost his mind," said Bryan, who said the lieutenant governor did not try to influence what he brought out of the Public Health Committee. By the same token, Bryan said he did not try to take up legislation that he knew Bryant would oppose.
"For most of his term, the Democrats had a slight majority in the Senate," he said. "There was a serious effort to try to get along."
But Bryan said the way Bryant handled redistricting "was completely beyond the pale" of what past lieutenant governors had done.
Overall, Senate Finance Chair Dean Kirby, R-Peal, said Bryant had "an open door policy" as lieutenant governor and believes he will be a successful governor.
But still, Kirby said, "It will not be very easy following Haley Barbour. It will be like following Knute Rockne or Bear Bryant."