Sen. Claire McCaskill said Sunday she feels “almost sorry” for House Speaker John Boehner, adding there’s no reason why Grover Norquist should have such considerable influence over Republicans.Appearing on NBC's “Meet the Press” with Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker the Missouri Democrat expressed confidence that the Senate – where Democrats hold a majority – can reach a fiscal cliff deal but was pessimistic about what will happen across the Capitol.
“Bob and I both know, he and I are talking, I think we can get a deal through the Senate,” McCaskill said. “The question is, I feel almost sorry for John Boehner. There is incredible pressure on him from a base of his party that is unreasonable about this, and he’s got to decide, is his speakership more important or is the country more important?”
McCaskill then lobbed a grenade at Norquist, the anti-tax crusader whom she said she met in the NBC green room before he taped a different segment of the show.
“You know, everybody’s elevated Grover,” McCaskill said of the man behind the anti-tax pledges signed by nearly all GOP members of Congress. “I met him for the first time this morning. Nice to meet him, but who is he? Why is he this guy who has captured attention in this?”
Corker also downplayed Norquist's significance.
"I am not obligated by any pledge other than my oath," he said.
Norquist, in the subsequent segment, ignored McCaskill's shot but fired back at Corker.
"There were a few people, including the senator you just had on, who were seduced into thinking, 'Well, maybe I'll just have a small, teeny tax increase and we'll have real reform,'" Norquist said. "Look, Corker wants teeny tax increases and very serious reforms but you're not going to get that."
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