I posted this past Saturday the results of the Value Voters Summit straw poll of whom they want to support for president. Romney just edged out over Huckabee.
Well, that's not entirely accurate, I've found. I was looking on the Family Research Council's page (they hosted the event), and there were two polls, one of people who attended the summit and another that included the corresponding online poll. The results I posted on Saturday were the ones that Tony Perkins announced, the online poll results.
Online polls are pretty much bunk, so it's more interesting to look at the on-site results, the poll of the activists, movers, and shakers in Religious Right movement, where Huckabee beat Romney by about 40%, 51% of the vote to 10%. This seems to make a whole lot more sense, considering Huckabee's background as a Baptist minister, his lack of flip-flopping, his better performance at the conference, and the fact that he isn't Mormon. Sure, he's not doing too well in terms of money and polling, but he can still try to build some Huck-mentum, and this summit's the place for him to do it.
More on Huck's performance at the summit, his possible third-party run, and Romney's chances, after the jump.
Kate Sheppard did some awesome live-blogging of the event, and here's some of what she had to say about Huck:
Huckabee came out swinging, which many assumed would happen, but it was an even far more aggressive, direct speech than I expected. While he didn't mention other candidates by name, he was clearly challenging their credibility with evangelical Christians. "I come to you not as one that comes to you, but as one that comes from you," he said. And later: "It's important that people sing from the hearts and don't just lip-sync the lyrics." The candidate they back should "speak in the mother tongue," he said, going on to cite numerous Biblical stories and verses to reaffirm his own ability to do so. David, Goliath, Elijah, Galilee, Jesus putting mud in the eyes of a blind man – he pounded out a sound-bite-sized recap of the Bible just to make it clear that he's still very much a Southern Baptist minister.
He's really feeling the FMA (from his speech):
People say we don't want to amend the Constitution. Well, it was made to be amended ... I don't want to see people who are less willing to change the Constitution than they are to change the holy word of God.
And he compared abortion to the Holocaust in his speech:
Sometimes we talk about why we’re importing so many people in our workforce. It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.
So here we have the leaders of the Religious Right overwhelmingly backing a guy who isn't a front-runner, but who's at least right on all their issues and sounds passionate about them. Sure, the Club for Growth, who represent the big money GOP'ers, created a website just to make fun of "Tax Hike Mike", and we all know that the no-starter issue for non-theocon Republicans is taxes (different from fiscal responsibility, as GWB proves). Really, he isn't about to get the nomination, but it's interesting to speculate where this bid of support is going to take him.
First of all, we know that a whole bunch of local and state Religious Right leaders are coming home this morning feeling a whole lot better about Huck than they were before. With Brownback, the only other theoconservative, dropping out last week (and still managing to get 26 votes at the summit), Huck's the only person Religious Right folks can point to and say, with any semblance of credibility, "He's our guy."
This all leaves open the possibility of a third-party run if Rudy gets nominated. DHinMI over at Kos considers the possibility of the Religious Right not supporting a Rudy bid:
Or, they could pull out of the Republican coalition for this election, see the Republican lose (which they may be calculating is likely to happen regardless of whether they stay committed to the Republicans), and then say "see, we’re the reason you lost, and you need to come back to our position or you’ll never again win." Then, in a few years, the donations pick back up, because they’ve re-exerted their coercive control and they’ll be back in positions of influence in the GOP and their organizations will be back in the money, thanks to their donors.
When asked about a third-party run, Perkins said:
We've drawn a line on abortion and we will not cross it.
Even Huck himself pointed to that possibility at the Value Voters Summit:
I don't want expediency or electability to replace our vales. We live or die by those values. I want to make it very clear that I do not spell with 'G-O-D,' 'G-O-P.' Our party may be important, but our principles are even more important.
I'm sure he'll deny it right now as he tries to build some momentum and defy all logic and become the GOP candidate that big business Republicans don't like, but at some point he's going to have to make the decision to drop out completely or go third-party. Or this is the Religious Right exercising its influence in the party, which might be enough to blackball Rudy, and Romney will be the compromise candidate. No one will be happy, but then no one will have to go home with their tail between their legs.
On Romney, Dayton Soren, who also attended, said:
In general, people that I talked to after the speech felt like he had said everything that he was supposed to say. He had performed very, very well. But it wasn’t enough for them. They wanted more. And they felt like he was performing. And it was clear that there was some substantial anti-Mormon bias in the room.
Romney was right on target for what this crowd wanted to hear. Nothing about Iraq, nothing about reinstating the gold standard, nothing about S-CHIP – just abortion, marriage, porn, and families. He even mentioned the fact that he's Mormon and that some people might think he shouldn't be the GOP candidate for that reason rather jokingly, brushing it off as a non-issue. He's figuring his "family cred" speaks for itself – I wish I'd tallied how many times the word [family] left his mouth – and it fared quite well with the crowd.
It's good enough, I suppose, for the leaders to say that he stands with them on the issues, that he's "evolved" instead of "flip-flopped", and still maintain their credibility within the movement.
Because ultimately, that's what this is about. Every GOP presidential candidate in the past three decades has supported overturning Roe, so they could at least pretend like they were delivering. But a Rudy bid would throw a monkey wrench in all that, so they've got to threaten drastic action if that happens.