U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey on Thursday forcefully defended the virtue of a no-taxes pledge that some fellow Republican, including at least one Georgia GOP lawmaker, believe is obstructing substantive progress in solving the nation’s fiscal crisis.

“In 2002, I was running in a tough primary and those folks back in Marietta, Georgia said, ‘Phil, are you the pledge, the Grover Norquist-Americans for Tax Reform pledge?’,” Gingrey said on CNN. “And I said, ‘Yes, I will take that pledge.’ Many of them would have voted for my opponent, he or she, so that pledge, I honor that because it’s a pledge to my constituents, absolutely.”

In recent days, a handful of prominent Republicans have criticized the negotiating constraints of a pledge pushed by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform to not raise taxes.

Asked by host Christine Roman if he could accept a compromise in which the Bush tax cuts on the country’s top earners would expire in exchange for entitlement reform, Gingrey conceded the “optics” of such a deal might “look good” but Republicans were so convicted that they would not waver.

“From a political perspective, the optics of that might, you know, look good and maybe the Democrats feel that they have an advantage politically,” Gingrey said. “But we Republicans, we conservative Republicans, fiscal conservative Republicans, feel that we are right on this, that we can’t allow because of politics, to waffle or waver on something that we know will get this country back on the right track.”

– James Richardson