As he attempted to shore up his conservative credentials during an interview with Sean Hannity at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today, Florida's former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush faces one acid test — will he, or will he not, sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge
which many conservatives see as a required credential for a successful GOP candidate.
Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform (AFTR), says that after discussions with Bush aides, he believes that Bush will sign the pledge, in which candidates promise to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses" and "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
"Right now, everyone who is thinking of running has signed it in his present capacity or in a previous race, with the exception of Jeb Bush," Norquist told ABC News
Norquist noted that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also considered a potential candidate for the GOP nomination, has not signed the pledge but "everyone thinks" he has because "he has stated publicly that he would never raise taxes so many times," ABC News reported.
"The challenge for Jeb is he's said publicly, 'I might.' I think he'll be comfortable. But his father and his brother didn't do pledges, didn't do questionnaires, did sign the pledge. Because it's different — it's been endorsed by the Republican Party, for crying out loud," Norquist said.
However, so far, Bush has refused to sign the pledge, which AFTR says has been signed
by 219 House and 41 Senate members in the 113th Congress, as well as 14 governors and 1,035 state legislators.
Bush, likely recalling his father's famous statement: "Read my lips — no new taxes" which may have cost him election to a second term in 1992 after taxes, indeed, were raised, has been loath to sign the pledge.
In 2012, Jeb Bush said: "No. I ran for office three times. The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed the pledge. I cut taxes every year I was governor. I don't believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people," Investors Business Daily reported
, predicting that Bush still will refuse to sign the pledge.
Norquist told The Washington Post
: "Dad said he'd never raise taxes and did. Unlike his brother, Jeb has declined to take the pledge and done little to make conservatives confident he wouldn't. I find that approach oddly aristocratic. He'll have to explain himself."
Bush, considered by some to be the front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination, has a lead in the Real Clear Politics roundup
of 1.5 percent.
He faces other challenges to his conservative credentials, notably his stances on Common Core and immigration.
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