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NEWSMAX: Rubio Backs Contract From America

y David A. Patten, Thursday, July 8, 2010 01:25 PM

Newsmax has learned that conservative Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio has pledged to support the pro-liberty, anti-tax agenda known as Contract From America, which appears to be emerging as a major political force in the midterm elections.

In an e-mail response to Newsmax, Rubio, a Republican, confirmed that he has signed the contract, which presents 10 key platform planks that promote “individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.”

“I’m proud to sign the Contract From America, which is a restatement of the principles and values that have made America exceptional for centuries and that are needed in Washington today,” Rubio’s e-mail stated Thursday. “At a time when Washington is spending money that we don’t even have to expand government, the Contract From America is a reminder that America deserves leaders who will be a check and balance on the direction this president and Congress are pursuing.”

Several high-profile Republicans have joined Rubio in signing the contract during the past 48 hours, including Senate candidate Dan Coats of Indiana, Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, and Senate candidate Ken Buck of Colorado.

“Due to your efforts, these candidates have chosen to be champions of Main Street values and have joined with you in signing the Contract From America,” declared a post on the group’s Web site, TheContract.org.

But Rubio’s commitment lends the contract perhaps its highest-profile supporter among those running in November.

“We’re very pleased,” tea party activist and Houston attorney Ryan Hecker, who originally came up with the Contract concept, tells Newsmax. “By signing the Contract From America, Marco Rubio is saying he’s listening, he’s really adopted this very Main Street agenda. He’s saying this is a powerful grassroots document, that is very much a mainstream document, that should be adopted for everyone. It should be helpful to him in the general election race, but beyond that it represents the values of a majority of Americans.”

FreedomWorks, the D.C.-based facilitator of the conservative grass-roots movement sweeping the nation, also heralded Rubio’s decision to sign onto the contract.

“This just confirms the grass-roots instincts in backing Rubio” over Gov. Charlie Crist, FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon tells Newsmax. “It shows that he’s dead serious about policy. If he’s elected to the Senate, you can bet he’ll be a policy innovator, and that’s just what this country needs. In the coming budget battle, it’s not going to be policy for the timid, and he’s shown that he’s a leader.”

A Rasmussen Reports poll on Thursday showed that Rubio has taken a 36 percent-to-34 percent lead over Christ, who left the Republican Party to become an independent after it became clear that his chances of defeating Rubio in a GOP primary were slim. Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek is running a distant third with 15 percent, according to Rasmussen.

Rubio’s commitment means that more than 130 candidates have now signed onto the list of 10 key principles, which are designed to reduce the pervasive influence of the federal government in the lives of everyday citizens — rapid progress, considering the fact that the contract was unveiled only on April 15.

“We’re more getting candidates every day,” Ryan Hecker, the tea party activist who came up with the contract concept, tells Newsmax.

The contract urges members of Congress to cite the specific clause in the Constitution that gives them authority to pass any new legislation. It rejects cap and trade, which it says will hurt the nation’s economy and global competitiveness. It aims for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, and would require a two-thirds majority to pass any tax hike.


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NEWSMAX: Contract From America Rose from Obscurity

By Ronald Kessler

Ryan Hecker got the idea while he was shaving: Why not hold politicians accountable to conservative principles with a “Contract from America”?

Bookish and intense, Hecker, 29, is hardly the sort of person you would expect to galvanize a political movement. But as a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with Vinson and Elkins in Houston, Hecker has impressive credentials.

He has another thing going for him: Outrage.

Outrage was what he was feeling about the Bush administration’s plan to bail out banks when he thought up the Contract from America in December 2008. In contrast to Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the new contract would bubble up from the grass roots, setting forth principles that politicians would be asked to embrace.

Now, tens of thousands of activists have voted on what they consider the top 10 principles.

At a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Hecker and other Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United announced plans to unveil the final document on April 15.

Despite the growing power of his concept, until now, no one in the media has interviewed Hecker about his background and how he arrived at the idea for the contract.

Hecker tells Newsmax he grew up in a liberal family in Manalapan, N.J. His father taught math at a middle school and at the College of Staten Island, where his mother also taught math. Hecker’s uncle, Democrat Marty Markowitz, is Brooklyn’s borough president.

When Hecker was 16, Hecker’s congressman, Republican Michael J. Pappas, got him a page job, which exposed him to the arguments of Republicans on the Hill.

“A lot of the pages were running around delivering packages all day, but my job was to sit in the cloakroom and wait for phone calls and go on the floor,” Hecker says. “So I witnessed a lot of debates.”

While attending New York University, Hecker joined a debate team and was impressed by the arguments of conservatives who leaned toward being libertarian.

“The strongest arguments, especially on economic and individual rights issues, were for me always the conservative position,” Hecker recalls.

Hecker was not shy about letting his parents know that he had become a Republican.

“My mom still thinks like, Oh, you’re doing what you’re doing, and it’s not what I agree with, but I’m proud of you,” Hecker says.

Hecker had no problem breaking the news to his future wife, Niru. Born in the U.S. of parents from India, she is a conservative who met Hecker when she was attending Bryn Mawr and debated him.

In 2005, Hecker graduated cum laude from Harvard and was hired by Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. After two years, he left the law firm to join the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani as an opposition researcher.

When the campaign was over, Hecker joined the law firm of Vinson and Elkins in Houston, where his wife had begun a residency in neurosurgery.

Last Feb. 27, Hecker was on his way to lunch and ran into a rally of conservatives. He joined them and helped organize a rally on April 15 by the Houston Tea Party Society, where he became an executive board member. Hecker later became a board member of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the leading tea party groups in the country.

In September 2009, Hecker launched the ContractfromAmerica.com Web site. The idea is to enlist candidates from both parties to subscribe to such goals as “Stop the Tax Hikes,” “Stop the Pork,” and “End Runaway Government Spending.”

“The Contract from America is based on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government,” Hecker says. “The goal is to really create a grass-roots feeling that we can make a difference, that individuals can make a difference, and that it’s time for the Republicans and the Democrats and politicians in general to listen to the people.

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NEWSMAX: Tea Party Launches Contract from America

By: Ronald Kessler

The Tea Party Patriots launched their Contract from America in a nationwide effort to make Washington more accountable to conservative principles.

At a Conservative Political Action Conference press briefing, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey; Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform; and members of the Tea Party Patriots, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United joined grass-roots activists to announce plans for a final document to be unveiled on April 15.

It will list 10 grass-roots-generated policy pillars that candidates of either party will be asked to subscribe to in order to bring about economic and government reform and win the votes of tea party activists.

“We started this to give every American the opportunity to make a difference and to tell elected officials that it’s now time for them to listen to the people,” said Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots, who came up with the idea of a contract that originates with the people.

Norquist emphasized that the contract can be employed when evaluating local as well as national candidates.

“We also see this as a way to help unite the tea party movement and transform it from a purely protest movement to one calling for proactive and positive reform,” Hecker said.

Dick Armey described the tea party movement as riding on a “tidal wave of patriotism.” He noted that the movement is “leaderless, which is baffling to liberals.” With some pride, he observed that the president of the United States makes jokes about the tea party movement.

“The Democrats’ attitude is sit down and shut up,” Armey said. While the Contract from America is intended to enlist both Democrats and Republicans, he said, “I have no illusions that Democrats will treat it with anything but scorn.”

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