U.S. anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, scourge of any and all tax increases, said on Tuesday that news report questioning the vitality of his "no new taxes" pledge — a vow taken by many Republican politicians — is overblown.
Norquist, a registered lobbyist, heads the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, which has enlisted almost every Republican member of the U.S. Congress to sign a pledge against raising taxes.
The Washington Post ran a story on May 25 reporting that "an increasing number of GOP candidates for Congress are declining to sign the promise to oppose any tax increase, a small sign that could signal a big shift in Republican politics on taxes."
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Norquist criticized the article. "We're doing as well this year as in previous years" in terms of recruiting pledge signers, he said. "This idea that there's some shift. That's not accurate."
Republicans who have not signed the pledge may be in congressional races they are unlikely to win anyway, while other candidates have rules against signing pledges, he said.
Norquist's pledge came under scrutiny last year amid deficit-reduction negotiations in Congress. Democrats used the pledge to paint Republicans as intransigent and beholden to Norquist.
Norquist said his group plans to spend about $8 million in the campaign season preceding the Nov. 6 elections, highlighting candidates who have signed the pledge and those who have not.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has signed the pledge. So did nine of the 10 initial Republican presidential candidates.
Norquist's pledge, which started in 1986, has become Republican dogma for many federal or local party candidates.
Only six Republicans in the House of Representatives have not signed the pledge. Seven Republican Senators have not signed.
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