GOP candidates to make social issues pitch at Values Voters

This year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. this weekend could be a major turning point in the race for … Continued

This year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. this weekend could be a major turning point in the race for the GOP nomination for president. The summit couldn’t come at a more pivotal time, as the first caucus could be held as early as December – two and a half months from now. It will be the first time that
the major candidates will be speaking at the same event, and this audience, social conservatives, seems to be the one group that hasn’t settled on a candidate.

We say the first time because it is really just this week that the field has solidified. Many, especially the ‘Teavangelicals’ – the social conservatives – were waiting to see if another major candidate would get in the race. We got our answer this week when Chris Christie and Sarah Palin both announced that they would not seek the presidency.

Of the remaining candidates, there are four that most social conservatives will be paying particularly close attention to this weekend: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain.

There is one word that can be used to describe Mitt Romney’s support, consistent. He has remained at or near the top of the polls for, well, years now. No matter who has gotten in the race, his numbers haven’t really changed. The most recent example came earlier this week when the speculation about Christie had reached its apex; a Quinnipaic poll had Christie tied with Romney at 17 percent.

The question remains, how will he be received this weekend? Will social conservatives take another look at him now that the field is set? He has never been especially loved by social conservatives, but he has always been well received and respected. He’s not a firebrand like Rick Santorum, and he doesn’t throw out as much red meat as Michele Bachmann, but he does speak to conservatives and our values.

When it comes to issues, it is important to remember that social conservatives don’t limit their issues to abortion and marriage. All of the major candidates agree on the sanctity of human life and marriage. However, there are issues that all the top candidates don’t see eye-to-eye on that conservatives are very interested in. Immigration (i.e. securing our borders) for one, is a major conservative issue – an issue with which Romney has resonated with conservatives.

Conservatives have been disappointed with Perry’s stance on immigration, essentially providing state subsidies to illegal immigrants who attend Texas universities. Perry entered the race the darling of social conservatives. The Values Voter Summit is a key opportunity for Perry to connect with his base. His $17 million fundraising haul will buy him time, but the question is what he will do with that time, and this is his key constituency. If he continues to wear his faith on his sleeve, which is an important part of who he is that social conservatives like, will it be enough, or can he bring something else to the table?

For Michele Bachmann, this weekend represents a critical point in her campaign. One of her biggest competitors, Palin, is no longer a factor in the race, and the values voters are her crowd. Can she find the fire that propelled her to the top tier just a few months ago or will she continue fall in the polls? This may be her last opportunity to connect with conservative voters.

The biggest question mark of the campaign at the moment is Herman Cain. He is seeing a strong resurgence of his campaign, building off a huge straw poll win in Florida. The key question for Cain is will he take advantage of this late surge or will he fizzle, as he did a few months ago? If he can match substance with his rhetoric at this critical juncture, where many social conservatives are searching for their candidate, he could solidify himself near the front of the race. However, he must reach the social issues, not just the fiscal ones. The Values Voter Summit presents him an important opportunity to do just that.

Does the winner of the Values Voter Summit straw poll become the new frontrunner in the GOP race? Not necessarily, but it could serve as an important building block as the campaign begins to pick up. We all eagerly await the results as election season begins to kick in to high gear.

Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice and writes for the On Faith’s blogging network at the Washington Post. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ.

  • MrDarwin

    Let’s not forget that evangelical Christians (and Catholics as well) have long considered Mormons NOT to be “true Christians”, although I’m not quite sure who holds the right to that trademark because the Mormons certainly do consider themselves Christian while considering all other so-called Christian churches to have long since fallen into apostasy. Each group considers the other groups to be heretical; while the leadership of the religious right has apparently decided “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” (especially in their opposition to anything resembling “gay rights”) and set their differences aside, it remains to be seen whether the rank-and-file Christian voters are quite so open-minded and ready to vote for a Mormon.

  • WmarkW

    I don’t agree with much Sekolow says, but I do wish their group luck fighting illegal immigration. The best way to reduce abortion, crime and drug use is make sure the low skill population has a future with a decent job in it, which illegal immigrants make precarious. The period 1945-65 when America had the kind of moral values that “values voters” prefer, was also a time of full employment and job security.

    If you want a moral population, you have to create the kind of economy that supports it. People who worry about their economic future, don’t put down family and community roots. And that goes for LAN engineers who expect to be fired as soon as their current project is complete, as well as laborers working day-to-day.

  • david6

    As long as business has a strong desire to hire workers they can treat badly, there will be immigrants who get jobs without a green card. Still, don’t blame the immigrants, blame business for their intentional criminal activities.

    When that is fixed, we need to increase the number of immigrants allowed into this country rather than listen to the racists and reactionaries who are blind to value that immigration has always offered our country.

  • WmarkW

    Immigrants help our country a lot at the beginning of the last century when our expanding industrial demanded large amount of labor, even if it wasn’t skilled. Today’s knowledge economy doesn’t need even need the unskilled labor we breed domestically, so we don’t really have a place for the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants who are the equivalent of HS dropouts.

    The legal immigrants with science skills are the makers of our future.

  • GrammaSandie

    we are watching, listening and praying; we are disappointed that Ron Paul is so shunned; he points out how deep our country is in debt and in dire- straights; we don’t know Cain, yet; really like Michelle; not sure about Romney – he’s in favor of national-run medicine, for one; we want to see how conservative Perry really is.
    we thought Christie was sounding good.

  • mrcrider

    I don’nt have an opinion are a comment. What I know as I learn and, obey the truth by the grace of GOD! through HIS WORD is who HE the TRUTH is and what HE knows and, says and does is the truth. Then said Jesus to those Jews which beleived on him, If you continue in my word,then and only then are you my [disiplined ones in doing;] And you will know the truth,and the truth will make you free. John 8: 31-32;. What ever office are title a person may have is not important. Whats important is that they have given thier HEART to GOD! through HIS SON JESUS. WHO can control a country are nation that does’nt have controll of thier own life! are who does’nt beleive and live the WORD of GOD. We don’t need dead head led people leading nothing. We need SPIRIT led PEOPLE led by the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD. Our foreFathers new this and their first order of the day in the White House was PRAYER. Otherwise we’ll just be chaseing the devil around putting out his fires and, thats exactly what hes working on to keep us distracted! from what? THE TRUTH of course. GOD is not saying lets make a deal. We will be accountable for who we let guide our country,nation ect. So we must find those who has a covenant with GOD! and, get rid of those who don’t. We can do this. Kenneth Crider

  • mrcrider

    Lets pray and, then find out what the candidates are doing at home. How and who they are liveing thier lives for. We will do this. SO>IT BE> K>E>C>

  • david6

    Thanks for the sermon. Have you noticed that you have no evidence to back up your preaching?

  • 11deeag

    Faith is important but so is experience..I think a combination ticket of Newt and Cain would get this country in good shape He has a program already to go on the enternet and before the music stops. I know he has had issues but as Chrostians there is forgiveness. He has apoligized for these that was over 10 yrs ago, You did not even mention his name. He at least believes in Jesus which is more than Romney. The media and you need to give all candiates a equal chance. The TV is doing the same thing. I always wind up with someone I don’t want to vote for, Michelle doesn;t stand a chance yet you mention her.

  • jr111

    I like Herman Cain. He has real world experience in business and he is a strong Christian. He is smart and has common sense, unlike the leaders we have now. He is less a politician than Romney or Bachman and he connects with people across race and income levels. I do not like Perry’s stand on illegals and I think Romney changes his mind too often.

  • jeffkrotts

    Greetings Friends,

    It appears to be shaping up as another of my votes goes to the lesser of two evils or a vote against someone who is bad for America, doesn’t have what it takes to be the leader of the free world or both. It really doesn’t matter who runs against the current resident of the oval office almost anyone would be a better choice. Let’s hope that the Republicans put together a team that not only has common business sense but the kind of leadership ability that brings back the respect that this country deserves. If we as a nation continue to travel in the same direction we have been for more than two decades we will surly not survive as “One Nation Under God”. For those of you who have a problem with God you should try living in one of the countries that exists without him. It probably won’t take you long to look for him once he is gone.

  • reltiv

    We had a Christian in “W” & he was a proud countryman–but he was not exempt from major error;. None are angelic–just men–who unless they are true disciples for America’s redemption and industrial restoration, God help us all. For that would be heresy, repeating itself.

  • recook2

    Ture, we are all only human. Put not your trust on man.

  • mpirtle225

    Herman Cain, in my opinion, has the most passion and has kept his focus. After the Fox News/Youtube Debate, I was leaning more toward Cain, but was still undecided. The more I listen to each of the candidates, the more Cain stands out. Passion is what drives any person, and Cain has it……I believe he is genuine and he has proven he knows the issues and has a plan.

  • MrCool1

    Anything that brings more voters into the process is a good thing…

  • MrCool1

    Anything that brings more voters into the electoral process is a good thing…