Every weekday, Clark Porter, a tall man with a sturdy build, walks into the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis to work with tough ex-offenders. On the outside, he wears a suit and tie. But on the inside, he has more in common with the former felons than most.
Back in 1986, a skinny 17-year-old Porter went on trial there as an adult for robbing a post office at gunpoint. His sentence: 35 years.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., shocked Washington last week when he announced that he will quit the Senate to become president of a think tank. But as the barriers crumble between policy research and partisan advocacy, the building blocks are there for DeMint and the conservative Heritage Foundation to build a powerful operation with political clout.