Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's recent comments that Ronald Reagan and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, would be too conservative for today's Republican Party spurred an aggressive reply from conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist. Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform and author of the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," said Bush's comments on the two former presidents were "foolish."
Speaking Monday to reporters at an event at the Bloomberg headquarters in New York, Bush talked about how the past presidents would fit into the extreme partisanship in today's political climate:
Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad—they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party—and I don't—as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground.
"Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time—they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," he continued. Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."
Former President Reagan raised taxes as he compromised with Democrats, a feat unlikely to be accomplished by today's lawmakers. President Barack Obama and Democrats want to suspend President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, while Republicans want to maintain the cuts for all income brackets. Democrats and Republicans have been criticized for deadlocking on many other issues, both parties refusing to budge or cede any ground.
Norquist, who has gotten nearly all Republican congressmen to sign his pledge to never raise taxes, defended conservative icon Reagan by saying "this is the Republican Party that Reagan created." He also claimed Bush was out of touch with the views of today's Republicans.
"Jeb hasn't run for office for 10 years," Mr. Norquist said. "The modern Republican Party is a party that won't raise taxes."
Bush's name has circulated as a possible vice presidential nominee choice for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but has not expressed interest in the position.
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