Bush 41 on tax pledges: 'Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?'
July 13th, 2012
01:02 PM ET
6 years ago

Bush 41 on tax pledges: 'Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?'

(CNN) – Former President George H. W. Bush said politicians can't be "wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist" when asked about his own experience breaking the now infamous "no new taxes" pledge during his presidency.

Discussing Norquist's no new taxes "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" in a Parade Magazine cover story to be published Sunday, Bush responded with his detestation for the "rigidity of those pledges." Many Republicans have signed on to Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes, including presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney. Norquist is head of the Americans for Tax Reform group and a long-time fixture in Washington as a conservative anti-tax advocate.

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"The circumstances change and you can't be wedded to some formula by Grover Norquist. It's-who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" said Bush.

Bush made his pledge at the 1988 Republican National Convention when he accepted the nomination to be the Republican presidential candidate that year. After he became president, he was forced to break his pledge on a budget deal with Congress.

Bush 41 talked about the issue in an interview with presidential historian Mark Updegrove for Parade.

Bush was plagued with the broken guarantee throughout his failed reelection campaign in 1992.

Bush 41 and his wife, Barbara, stationed at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine, with their dogs Bibi and Mini-Me Bush, also offered a glimpse into his views on the current presidential race, his friendship with Bill Clinton and the partisan divide in Washington.

Upon being asked what conservatives could do to repair the damage within the party from the primary season, Bush said Republicans have already begun to rally behind Romney.

"[Mitt Romney has] been endorsed by the other candidates. That's ever thus. I mean, you're not very pleased with people who whip you verbally for months and then you turn around and you're friends. But that's the way it goes in both parties," said Bush.

Bush said he learned quite a bit from his presidential predecessor, Ronald Reagan, but was also complementary of his Democratic friend, Bill Clinton.

"Well, he knows a lot about everything. He's a very knowledgeable, bright man. He sat out here one time, and we talked about every possible [subject]-one after another," said Bush.

"But he never said a mean word about anyone. '[My] brother by another mother,' the boys call him," added Barbara of Clinton. "But he's very nice-I think he thinks of George as the father he never had. Truthfully. I mean that as a compliment. He's been very thoughtful about calling and he's a good fellow."

The Bush's also commented on his illness, vascular Parkinsonism; his son, former President George W. Bush; and high points in his presidency.

Filed under: George H. W. Bush • Grover Norquist • Taxes
soundoff (29 Responses)

    Anybody that signs a pledged to a crook lobbyist like rover nitwitquest should be thrown in jail and have their pensions and healthcare stripped ,oh ya,,we have national romney care now ,thanks romney the clown !!!!

    July 13, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |

    Me and a Bush agree on something. The world is coming to an end. I've been saying this all along. Ifyou signed Grover's pledge, you know the rest. The only oath I took was to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And the only pledge I take is my pledge of allegiance to the U.S. Grover Norquist is that "domestic enemy."

    July 13, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. BriSoFla

    Obama 2012!

    July 13, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Deb in MT

    Well now, President Bush, that's a darn good question! Why on earth is Grover Norquist dictating Republican policy–and, by extension, U.S. tax policy?

    Let us know what you find out about him, please. Thankyou.

    July 13, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. BobInIrvine

    Never thought I'd agree with a Bush, but H.W. is right on here. Orthodoxy does not belong in politics. On either side.

    July 13, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Emma in Baltimore

    Bush 41 was one of our better and more reasonable presidents. I wish the republicans would make 'em like that again.

    July 13, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. SafeJourney

    Exactly Mr Bush. Norquist is a treasonous person and all those repubs that signed that pledge are treasonous

    July 13, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    if more Republicans felt this way we might be able to get this country back on a better financial track. Polls show a majority of Americans even some Republicans feel that the upper 1 or 2% could pay more taxes. Yet today's GOP says NO new taxes on the "job creators". I could support this theory if they were creating jobs and trickle down economics worked but so far it has not so why keep doing it?

    July 13, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. Republican grandma

    He should talk to Demintz and Koch brother instead to GN.

    July 13, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. Steve, New York City

    President Bush '41 is a good man – and he had "good Republicans" at his side (like Brent Scowcroft and James Baker). A shame that his oldest son seems to be the apple that fell far from the tree.

    July 13, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Demogoat

    God bless him and Barbra.

    July 13, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. blahahahaaaa

    Mr President, Grover Norquist is a nerd, who sought out attention.. than got it by going to the least educated (tea party) and started a movement. Grover is now set in destroying the United States. Yes, Mr President, I have listened to him answer questions, and I ask myself the same question.. who the hell is this dweeb? He is as unamerican as anyone will find. Thank you for reminding everyone what a true patriot is all about.

    July 13, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Frank Tillery

    Reason number 41 why I admire G.H.W. Bush!

    July 13, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Bush 41 on tax pledges: 'Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?'"

    LOL. He asked the same question about Jeb the other day too.

    July 13, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. ZedATL

    The elder statesman knows what's up.

    July 13, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Wake up people

    Never thought I would agree with a shrub.......

    July 13, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. dreamer96

    Grover NOquist wasted no time going after Jeb Bush after he said our current GOP party had become too radical... Grover made a very public and thinly veiled threat to destroy Jeb Bush's political career, and leave him beat up in a dark alley somewhere....

    Grover NOquist and his pledge have to much power over 238 House members and 41 Senators...They all must march in step with Grover NOquist's orders, or face being destroyed by the Grover NOquist propaganda mass media machine..

    We never voted for Grover NOquist, or the Koch Brothers, or any of the other top 1%, that are now controlling our current GOP party..

    July 13, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Lmb

    All who signed on with the Grover Norquist No Tax Pledge should be recalled. Hamstringing their ability to change taxes conflicts with their responsibilities in Congress. Although a Democrat, I agree with former President Bush and admire him. Why can't the Republican Party find a reasonable and ethical candidate like Mr. Bush?

    July 13, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    Here's your answer HW.....a slimy shuckster who will not only ruin his own career, but anyone who was dumb enough to sign his pledge

    July 13, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. fernace

    Yes, excactly Mr. Bush 41! Why is the GOTP signing a pledge to 1 rich man & not to the citizens of this country? Another question obviously is, after hearing logical words from a true republican, what has happened to the republican party!? I don't know what's in the tea they're drinking, but the T-party has done a serious trick on the GOP! The T-party has got to go, so we can get some things done around here! Forward–Obama 2012!!

    July 13, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    Grover Norquist and his buddies must pay our deficit

    July 13, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Ask you Sons !

    July 13, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Grover has forced all elected republicans to commit treason against the United States.

    July 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. CaliforniaBC

    And here we have a representative of what the GOP USED to be. Now they are simply a crop of immature children with no interest in helping the country.

    July 13, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. SDG66

    What happened to the real Republicans like GHWB?

    July 13, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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