Norquist shared the story with reporters Monday, on the morning of Thatcher’s death at 87 from a stroke.
The way he tells it, a young Norquist was entering 10 Downing Street in the late 1980s to see one of Thatcher’s economic advisers when he ran into the British prime minister herself.
Thatcher was heading out the front door with her husband, while Norquist was waiting in the lobby.
“She says, ‘Do I need my umbrella?’ And I said yes, it just started to rain,” Norquist recalled after an immigration event. “So she goes into the closet and gets an umbrella and heads out the door.”
“So I was a trusted Thatcher adviser!” he quipped. “She asked my opinion, and she took it. She did exactly what I suggested.”
Norquist chalked up the fortuitous run-in to the modest trappings – at least at the time – of the official residence of the British prime minister, when compared to the residence of the U.S. president.
“10 Downing Street is down a stinking alley. It’s not Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said, adding that he simply “knocked on the front door” to be let in. “It was not like going to the White House.”