Grover Norquist Hits Back At George H.W. Bush

Anti-tax warrior Grover Norquist hits back at former president George H.W. Bush.

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Anti-tax warrior Grover Norquist was on a plane Friday when Parade magazine released its interview with George H.W. Bush, in which the former president denounces Norquist and his notorious Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

"The rigidity of those pledges is something I don't like," Bush told Parade of the promise, which has been made by 238 representatives and 41 senators who say they will never vote for a tax increase. "The circumstances change and you can't be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It's -- who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?"

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But Norquist's absence didn't stop his advocacy group, Americans For Tax Reform, from hitting back at Bush.

In a blog post on its website, the anti-tax group writes that President George H. W. Bush "regretted" raising taxes, and reminds readers that Bush signed the pledge when he ran for president. The post also quotes Bush in 1992 calling the compromise he made on tax increases "a mistake," and posts a photo of the former president looking contrite.

"He got tricked into letting it happen," the group writes.

Norquist, the ATR informs Whispers, will be off a plane soon to address Bush's comments himself.

Update, 4:43 p.m.: 

Norquist, who has now deplaned, told Whispers it was “unfair” of Parade to “talk to a very old person about a mistake he made 22 years ago in a puff piece." 

Of Bush’s negatives comment about him, Norquist attributed it to the question being a “humiliating thing” and a “sore spot.”

Norquist is referring, of course, to George H.W. Bush's famous comment at the 1988 Republican National Convention: "Read my lips: no new taxes," which helped him get elected. Bush later raised taxes, and lost his re-election bid in 1992 to Bill Clinton.

“Other people have learned from his mistake” in raising taxes, Norquist told Whispers, boasting that more Republicans are signing his pledge than ever before.  The Huffington Post last week reported that fewer GOP ‘Young Guns’ were signing the pledge; Norquist said interest among ‘Young Guns’ was not a good measure of the pledge’s success.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.