September 29, 2015

Cruz Makes Hay With Straw Poll

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have taken top honors, but there were plenty of winners at this year’s Values Voter Summit! In a jam-packed weekend that featured everything from presidential candidates to grassroots celebrities, the greatest victory belonged to the conservative movement. Ten years into what even our adversaries call “one of the country’s highest-profile conservative gatherings,” the crowd was electric.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have taken top honors, but there were plenty of winners at this year’s Values Voter Summit! In a jam-packed weekend that featured everything from presidential candidates to grassroots celebrities, the greatest victory belonged to the conservative movement. Ten years into what even our adversaries call “one of the country’s highest-profile conservative gatherings,” the crowd was electric.

Reenergized by Friday’s news — and the speeches of a field full of social conservatives — the Summit served notice to America that values voters are still, as Megyn Kelly called them, “one of the most influential voting groups in this country.” After two disappointing presidential cycles, it’s refreshing to see so many candidates vying to outdo each other on their commitment to social values. If the media was looking for an event to fit its narrative of a dying values movement, this wasn’t it! As Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told a lively crowd, “We’ve always had this debate about, well, what role should faith play in your life, and what role should faith play in politics? That’s a silly debate. For starters, our country was founded on a spiritual principle, on the idea that every human being has rights that are given to you by God, not by your government, not by the king. It was a revolutionary idea.”

And now, almost 250 years later, it is again. To more than 2,700 men and women from across the country, candidates took turns emphasizing the importance of principles the Establishment would be all too happy to leave behind. Senator Rick Santorum, a longtime fighter for the values this conference was named for, reminded people that “America is never going to be a great country if we’re a country that kills our children in the womb, ever. We are never going to be blessed by God if we’re a country that kills our children in the womb. We are never going to be a great country if we allow for the destruction of the American family that’s what’s happened over the past 50 years.”

While candidates like Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) seem anxious to turn the page on the marriage debate, many of their opponents used VVS to take them to task. “Really?” an indignant Santorum asked. “It’s time to ‘move on’ when the courts acts unconstitutionally? If you’re not willing to fight for the Constitution … why are you running for president as a Republican?”

Donald Trump, who showed up the handful of candidates whose absence at the event said plenty, pointed to the significance of religious liberty. On the third anniversary of Pastor Saeed Abedini’s captivity in Iran, Donald was as disgusted as the rest of us that the country’s president didn’t lift a finger to get him back. “Look, nuclear’s so important,” he explained, “but you have four prisoners. One of them’s over there … in jail because he’s a Christian.” As one of the best negotiators in America, he shakes his head at the incompetence of the administration. “You walk in at the beginning, not the end — not the end. You say, fellas, before we start, you have four prisoners. You don’t want them. We do… If they say no, you take a walk because you know you’re not going to get anything. You take a walk.”

But for the ballot-casters at this year’s event, the weekend belonged to Ted Cruz. With twice the votes (408) of his next closest competition (Dr. Ben Carson at 204), Senator Ted Cruz captured his third straight VVS Straw Poll victory — a poll that even Slate called “an excellent barometer of conservative sentiment.” Perennial favorite Governor Mike Huckabee finished third (166 votes), followed by Senator Rubio (148 votes) and Donald Trump (56 votes).

And while seats may have been in short supply at the Summit, heroes were not. Conservatives were treated to a stage full of courageous Christians, including the man behind the takedown of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Medical Progress’s David Daleiden. He, along with so many familiar faces of the religious liberty debate — Aaron and Melissa Klein, Barronelle Stuzman, Kelvin Cochran, the Benham Brothers, Casey Davis, Richard and Betty Odgaard, Master Sergeant Phillip Monk — made a powerful statement about the impact one person can have just by standing up for his or her beliefs.

But it was Kim Davis, Rowan County Clerk, who was under the brightest spotlight. Just one year after the Summit honored a Sudanese woman for being jailed for her faith, the crowd paid tribute to an imprisoned Christian of their own. With tears streaming down her face, Kim talked about how undeserving she felt to receive FRC’s second “Cost of Discipleship Award.” “I am one,” she said. But, she said, looking out across the vast crowd, “we are so many.” She’s right. As this Summit and a nation full of passionate believers attest, the time for being spectators is over.

If you missed the Summit, you don’t have to miss the excitement! Visit to relive your favorite moments.

A Resign of the Times…

Senator Ted Cruz may have had the most applause lines (67), but Marco Rubio easily had the biggest! The Summit’s second speaker was the first to mention the House’s departing one — to a thunderous ovation so loud that it earned its own article in The Hill. After thanking Speaker Boehner for his service, Senator Rubio agreed that it was time for America to “turn the page and allow a new generation of leadership.”

Rubio’s mention of Boehner’s resignation was the first of many, as candidates talked about the need to salvage the promises the GOP made to voters. Some, like Senator Cruz, even credited the people in the room for helping to bring about the change Congress so desperately needs. “You want to know how much each of you terrify Washington? Yesterday, John Boehner was speaker of the House. Y'all come to town, and somehow that changes.” To laughter, he said his request is, “Can you come more often?”

As I told reporters over the weekend, social conservatives don’t expect Republicans to win every fight, but they are tired of GOP leaders entering political battles waving a white flag. Hopefully, the party has learned its lesson. And they’ll have the opportunity to prove it in the upcoming battle over Planned Parenthood. If Republicans won’t fight to end taxpayer funding for an organization that butchers baby bodies for bucks, what will they fight for? Conservatives want GOP leaders who understand that some values are worth fighting for. To anyone who thinks we shouldn’t be doing everything possible to defund Planned Parenthood, David Daleiden told our crowd, “I would just say that you’re not listening hard enough.”

[Today], members will have the chance to expose the grisly reasons why at the first congressional hearing with the group’s president, Cecile Richards. As part of the House’s three ongoing investigations, pro-lifers in the chamber insist on getting to the bottom of the multi-billion dollar organization’s wrongdoing. All eyes will be on Richards, as part of a House Government Oversight and Reform hearing. Then, that same afternoon, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will debate legislation that includes a one-year ban on any abortion provider under Medicaid, which takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood.

In the meantime, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) has a message for the video’s deniers, like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): you’re embarrassing yourselves. “They cannot defend the barbaric activities revealed on these undercover videos, so they demonize and dismiss the source instead. I get it — this is a conversation that Democrats do not want to have, but these videos are indeed real and pretending otherwise will not change the gruesome reality of what is happening behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood clinics across this country,” Black fired back.

“It is telling that, in her attempt to discredit these videos, Mrs. Pelosi said ‘you can create any reality that you want.’ In a sense, she is right. After all, that is exactly what Democrats have done by choosing to ignore the legitimacy of these films. I find it shameful that, days after Pope Francis exhorted Congress to ‘protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,’ Democrats are already back to their old tricks and are blindly ignoring the truth to justify their continued support of this scandal-ridden abortion giant. I encourage Nancy Pelosi to watch these films and then get back to me.”

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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