"When you got married, did your wife understand there was an expiration date on that promise?" Grover Norquist asked ABC's Jonathan Karl in an interview yesterday.
Although every day there are growing signs that Norquist's more than 200-member coalition of pledge signers are beginning to think twice as the fiscal cliff approaches, the long-time anti-tax crusader is sticking to his guns.
But so is President Obama, who today will jump-start his public campaign for a deficit reduction deal that extends only the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, ABC's Devin Dwyer notes.
Obama plans to host 15 small business owners at the White House for a private meeting and the National Economic Council will release a report on the impact of middle class tax cuts on small businesses. The push will continue Wednesday with a second meeting with business leaders and with the president playing host to Americans who wrote to the administration online about the importance of extending the tax cuts.
As the president steps up his sales job, Norquist will be working to keep the dam from breaking. And which Republicans might be most likely to break their no-tax promise?
As ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes, there are 33 Republicans from the 112th Congress who signed the pledge and aren't coming back next year because they are either retiring or they lost re-election. How many of these lame ducks feel compelled to stick to Grover's pledge? And, will they be courted and arm-twisted "Lincoln" style by the White House?
However, there are still 218 Republicans who signed the pledge for the upcoming 113th Congress. Almost all of them sit in heavily Republican leaning districts. Just 20 signers had a competitive race in 2012. The prospect of President Obama stumping against them doesn't scare them. What does worry them is a serious challenge from their right in a GOP primary.
Take, for example, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who announced a challenge to Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller in 2014. Already the Senate Conservatives Fund, the PAC backed by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced that "it will not endorse" Capito because "her spending record in the House is too liberal."
In addition, the head of the conservative Club for Growth, Chris Chocola, issued a statement yesterday complaining that "Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government. She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina. That's not the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races."
It's hard to believe that she'll want to add a vote to raise taxes to further incite national conservative groups and encourage a challenge in the GOP primary.