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Roll Call

Grover Norquist to Bring Conservative Powwow to Republican Convention

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Grover Norquist is taking his weekly Beltway conservative powwow to the Republican National Convention.

The anti-tax lobbyist, whose notorious no-tax pledge has become something of a litmus test for fiscal conservatism, will host an off-campus retreat the Wednesday morning of convention week less than half a mile from the Tampa Convention Center, where Republicans will officially name Mitt Romney the GOP presidential nominee.

For nearly 20 years, Norquist's closed-door gatherings at the Americans for Tax Reform headquarters in Washington, D.C., have served as a testing ground for policies drafted by conservative glitterati from K Street, think tanks and Capitol Hill.

This is the first time he has brought the event to the site of the national party convention.

The Tampa meeting is by invitation only, but unlike the usual Washington gatherings, it is on the record. GOP Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Paul LePage of Maine are expected to attend along with representatives from state ATR chapters and several Members of Congress, according to John Kartch, a spokesman for Norquist's group.

Recently, some Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Scott Rigell (Va.), have spoken out against the pledge, saying it is counterproductive to deficit reduction negotiations. Still, the media-savvy Norquist has maintained his larger-than-life reputation, persuading 279 sitting lawmakers and 279 challengers to sign the 26-year-old oath.

Romney has signed it twice, but don't expect Norquist to swoon.

"I think he's running an OK campaign, and he is more likely to win than not," Norquist said in an interview with Roll Call. "I think he's fine. He's fine on taxes. ... I don't mean to sound insufficiently excited."

The invitation to the Tampa gathering, obtained by Roll Call, features an imposing portrait of Norquist, lips parted, eyes gazing off to the right.

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