At 9, He's stumping for Bush's social security plan
The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush's proposal.
The boy, Noah McCullough, made a splash with his encyclopedic command of presidential history, earning five appearances on the "Tonight" show and some unusual experiences in the presidential campaign last year.
He beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at the Democratic National Convention and wrote for his local newspaper about his trip to see the inauguration.
"He's very patriotic and very Republican," said Noah's mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. "It's the way he was born."
In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams Elementary School in Katy, Tex.
Progress for America, which spent almost $45 million backing Mr. Bush last year, plans to lay out $20 million on Social Security this year. It has spent $1 million on television commercials and is working to send experts around the country. Among them are Thomas Saving, a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund; Rosario Marin, a former United States treasurer; and one really, really young Republican. Noah will not be eligible to collect Social Security for nearly 60 years.
Noah will travel to a handful of states ahead of visits by the president and will go on radio programs, answer trivia questions and say a few words about Social Security. Though he is obviously not an expert (and not really a lobbyist, either), officials say the effort is a lighthearted way to underline Mr. Bush's message.
"What I want to tell people about Social Security is to not be afraid of the new plan," Noah said. "It may be a change, but it's a good change."
The trip was a brainchild of Stuart Roy, a former aide to Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, who recently joined the DCI Group, a political consultancy here with ties to the Republican Party and Mr. Bush.
The firm is heavily involved in Progress for America's efforts. The president of the organization, Brian McCabe, is a partner at DCI, and the organization contracts with the firm. In the 2004 campaign, the Progress for America Voter Fund paid DCI about $800,000, records show. Mr. Roy knew Noah because the boy lives in suburban Houston, part of Mr. DeLay's district, and the House majority leader has met him. "We'll have Noah there as the face of Social Security reform," Mr. Roy said. "It's about the next generation."
Noah became interested in presidents as a 5-year-old after a mock election in kindergarten. Today, he has more than 3,000 books on presidential history. He campaigned for Mr. Bush, speaking to Republican groups and handing out bumper stickers. After 27 trips to the first President Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station, he scored a meeting with the former president.
Noah plans to run for the White House in 2032 - and he wants Social Security addressed before then.
"It will be bankrupt when I'm president," he said.