After years of propping up W., the Family Research Council inAction crowd apparently threw their weight behind Huckabee and/or Romney.
A quote from AU’s Barry Lynn: “This may be the biggest collection of theocrats in one room since the Salem Witch Trials.â€
But that misses what the conference actually revealed, a brewing fight between the grassroots and pundit leaders.
Coming out of the con, Gov. Huckabee was the news as Brody notes, but Marc Ambinder tackles the issue that’s been bugging some folks: with all the socon values Arkansas Huck embraces, why is there such tepid support. Marc quote’s a Redstate poster who intimates something that anyone watching the nonexistent Christian right support for SCHIP can see:
“Even Tony Perkins, the head of FRC, said he hoped the social conservative candidate would be palatable to the fiscal conservatives out there. Huckabee is not.”
Clearly for the religious right, the Club for Growth sets the monetary values.
And this brewing fight between right elites and the rank-and-file is exactly what Amy Sullivan sees a-comin’:
the real struggle in the 2008 Republican primaries will be not between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney or social conservatives and fiscal conservatives but between Christian Right leaders and the conservatives in the pews.
Why? In part because the leadership has become rich, and increased in good relationships with folks like Norquist.
I’d add that social conservative leaders generally prefer to support mainstream, front-running candidates because mainstream front-runners don’t usually need much help winning elections. And when they do win, they can turn around and claim to have put them over the top. Low risk, high reward, in other words. But more marginal candidates like Huckabee need a lot of help winning, probably significantly more so than the elites can deliver. Worse, if you get behind a Huckabee and he comes up short, it exposes your movement as relatively powerless. And, of course, even if he wins you can’t really take credit. So the crass calculation here is the opposite: high risk, low reward.
For example, Justin’s Thoughts “Christian. Conservative. Patriotic.” who was live blogging the conference and had this to say after Huckabee spoke:
As a evangelical Christian, I loved everything he said. The Governor didn’t make a political speech. It sounded much like a sermon. . . .This man needs our support. I really believe that the resurgence of Mike Huckabee is an act of Providence.
While the Family Research CouncilAction “Values Voters” were praying for someone like Reagan to appear this weekend, their old pal Tom DeLay set up tent, back for some more DC business. The Politico writes:
His new firm, First Principles, had its opening party last night, bringing in the Texas contingent — Sen. John Cornyn, former Rep. Henry Bonilla, Rep. Mike Conaway — and also Rep. Patrick McHenry, Pastor Rick Scarboro of Vision America, former Rep. Bill Paxon and Ken Blackwell (who is rumored to be doing work with DeLay).
Being D.C., things got started at 6 p.m. but went into the wee hours of the night — goers were probably encouraged by the fully stocked bar and cigars. We’re told: “His new office looks like it was decorated by Stephen Colbert and Rush Limbaugh. I never knew you could fit so many elephant and eagle figurines into one space.”
You might remember Vision America and Ken Blackwell from the infamous “Patriot Pastors” network that We Believe Ohio moderated.
Before the announcement, you ought to know that I have a 2nd place bet with another blogger. It was pointless to bet on the winner because we’re both sure it’s Huckabee. She has Romney for runner-up, and I have the rest of the field. That sums up the weekend nicely.
Speaking of other bloggers, Rob Tice Lalka cranked out some terrificlive-blogging over at Faith Democrats this weekend. His ability to simultaneously describe and analyze is outstanding. Take a look.
3. tax cuts
4. permanent tax relief for families
1. Romney – 1595
2. Huckabee – 1565
3. Paul – 868
4. Thompson – 564
Missed the part about the online polling. Shocking result, but it looks like I still win my bet.
UPDATE: ON-SITE VOTE TOTALS MORE IN LINE WITH EXPECTATIONS
Huckabee floored them. He could do no wrong. His third sentence summarizes the natural advantage that guaranteed him adulation and freed him to talk about whatever he wanted to:
“I stand here not as one who comes to you, but one who comes from you.”
To varying extents, everyone else here had to sell himself to the audience, which took time and focus away from their platforms. Huckabee just got down to preaching.
Well, sort of. The first thing he did was drop an Al Gore joke (probably the 14th I’ve heard here) and then make fun of hippies. After that, though, it was a sermon to a swaying choir. Standing ovations were frequent, sharp whistling pierced the dark air, and the audience sounded like the evangelical congregations I remember from my time in Huckabee’s Arkansas. It wasn’t just “amen,” it was “that’s right,” and “yes”, and “come on, Mike!”
The congregants spent a lot of time on their feet, and I didn’t always understand why. But it was clear that these people love the holy rolling populist preacher. Beyond abortion, same-sex marriage and war!, he talked about some off-beat issues like rebuilding America’s arms-manufacturing base, “feeding ourselves” (agriculturally speaking) and the Fair Tax. No matter what he said, the audience cheered and cheered.
Oh, and he said we might not need so many immigrants if we didn’t abort so many babies.
Most noteworthy, though, was his declaration of independence from the Republican Party, which sounded like a warning:
I don’t want expediency or electability to replace our vales. We live or die by those values,” he said. “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.”
Bill Bennett warmed up the crowd for Rudy by speaking about “preemptive cultural surrender” in the war on terror, using the Screwtape Letters to paint liberals as deceptive devils who would lead us to defeat. Enables Rudy to leave it alone for a while.
Rudy started on an entirely different note: shared values and shared goals. He did a decent job of sticking to this theme while also acknowledging his differences with the audience.
His appeal to religion was fascinating: “We’ve gotta find a way to be more inclusive. Christianity is built around inclusion…Isn’t it?” He appealed to Christianity’s early history as a faith that thrived as a result of his message of love, hope, and forgiveness. A mild challenge, and a unique tack.
Think about the implications of the fact that Rudy felt compelled to say “Please know this, you have nothing to fear from me.”
He talked about the private nature of faith in his Roman Catholic upbringing. I don’t know how effective this will be, but I like that he says it.
Still, when he says “I see clearly the value of people of faith” in politics, he reinforces that he is an outsider here. This became especially conspicuous when he spoke of the Constitutional protection of religion rather than America being a Christian nation.
He was at his best when he spoke extensively about driving the pornography out of public view in New York, and about cutting off funding for a religiously offensive exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Very smart, and very well received. His other shrewd move was spending more time on school choice than any other candidate.
Abortion reduction and adoption promotion got plenty of time, but a rather lukewarm response, especially in comparison for other candidates’ calls for outlawing abortion. He got better applause when he talked about the conservative credentials of his judicial advisory board.
His security section, saved for last, was surprisingly nondescript. The only distinguishing factors were his focus on Israel and his mention of Darfur.
His discussion of his personal life was so cursory that it barely warrants mention. He went there, he didn’t have to, and he probably didn’t help himself.