Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist gets to rub elbows with the big names of the political right all the time. And sometimes he gets a fun souvenir. Glenn Beck gifted Norquist one of his chalkboards back in 2010, leaving it at ATR's headquarters in Washington to be used at the group's "Wednesday Meetings" of conservatives.
Norquist also happens to be the proud owner of a famous pen of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, specifically the one used to sign the controversial anti-union legislation in 2011.
"I actually have the pen he signed that labor bill with," Norquist revealed during a lunchtime meeting at U.S. News & World Report Monday. "He gave it to me."
The ATR head just happened to be in Wisconsin for a "regularly scheduled get-together" with the governor on March 11, 2011, and the two met at Walker's home because protesters were surrounding the state capitol.
"So we're chatting about life in general and what's going on and half an hour in [he says] 'excuse me,'" Norquist recalled. "Comes back in, hands me the pen."
Walker had signed the legislation, which stripped public workers of the majority of their collective bargaining rights with Norquist standing by that morning to preempt certain labor contracts from being signed.
"So the Scott Walker pen is not one of the really cool [pens]," Norquist said, explaining that his pen is a simple silver one, embellished with the governor's name. At 5 p.m. that day, Walker held the official ceremonial signing of the bill.
Norquist still praised the gift, calling it and the Beck blackboard "the coolest" items in his collection.
More seriously, though, Norquist said he believed the next Republican president – being elected in 2016, of course – would be coming from a governor's mansion. The anti-tax advocate ticked off Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as all probable hopefuls. "The downside is the Bush last name," Norquist said. "Just in the sort of 'Back to the Future' – it's Hillary Clinton's problem, there's a sense of going backward as opposed to forward somehow." Norquist also praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry, "Who, when he's not taking pain medicine, is actually quite brilliant and very articulate.". As for long shots, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence were also on the list.
But mainly Norquist talked Walker because he was reading a copy of the governor's book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge."
"It's the only, I'm projecting now, it's the only campaign book that I actually wanted to read," Norquist said, praising the fact that it's mainly strategy and only a tiny bit biography. "There are 2 1/2 pages in the back that mentions his dog and his mom and his kids and quotes the Bible and stuff like that."
And inscribed in his book? "Something to go with your pen," Walker scrawled.