Grover Norquist

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Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is a major force in Washington conservative circles.

Since 1993, he has hosted weekly meetings of conservative activists in the nation's capital which Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund has called the Grand Central Station of the conservative movement. More than 100 leaders of what Norquist refers to as "the center-right coalition" attend the sessions.

The bearded conservative activist is known for pithy, often pugnacious, phrasemaking including his observation, "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship."

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Before founding Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, Norquist served as executive director of the College Republicans, executive director of the National Taxpayers' Union, and economist and chief speechwriter for the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Norquist grew up in wealthy Weston, Mass., in a house which had a firing range in the basement. So perhaps it is not surprising that he is now on the board of directors of the National Rife Association. He is a graduate of Harvard University ('78) and Harvard Business School ('81).

Here are excerpts from his remarks at Tuesday's breakfast:

On the importance of Iraq in the 2006 elections:

"I tend to think if Iraq is in the rearview mirror in November of '06, [Republicans will] do fine. If it is in the windshield, there will be problems. And the challenge is how do you explain to the American people articulately, 'here is what we are trying to do, here is what we are trying to get to.' "

On keeping the Republican majority in Congress together despite disagreements on social issues and spending:

"Concerned and working on it, yes. Worried, no. Look, we were going in the wrong direction on spending. We are now turning towards the right direction.... it is not easy to do."

On level of voter concern about ethics investigations of House majority leader Tom DeLay:

"The idea that DeLay goes on overseas trips - not as many as the Democrats - but goes on overseas trips is not an argument to vote against my congressman or my senator or my governor."

On outlook for tax legislation in this congress:

Despite recent setbacks in the Senate, "we will get the [two-year] extension of [reduced rates on] cap gains and double taxation of dividend income."

On the White House political team:

"The decision on [Supreme Court nominee Harriet] Miers didn't work and it showed some failure of the internal workings. Had you had eight people in the room when Miers was discussed, Miers would never have been picked. It is not that there were not eight right-wingers, any eight people and you would not have gotten Miers... Somebody may pay for that decision. But the next decision with [Supreme court nominee Samuel] Alito is about as good as it gets.... Miers was a disappointment, not a betrayal.... There are no waves left. It dropped in the water and the water is still. The movement is happy."

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