Values Voters Summit is a more genteel anti-Obama tea party

But the rhetoric is just as confrontational. And it’s got most of the likely GOP presidential candidates lining up for a straw poll.

By , Staff writer

Anti-Obama conservatives are having their second big weekend in Washington.

Last Saturday, it was the mass “tea party” political protest. (How “mass” is still being hotly debated.) A sort of “Rabble in Arms” minus the pitchforks and torches, although there might have been a musket or two.

This weekend, it’s a more genteel version: The “Values Voters Summit,” sponsored by church-oriented “family values” groups and featuring a parade of would-be 2012 presidential candidates.

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There may be more suits and ties, and people haven’t been waving those signs depicting the president as an African witch doctor or Adolph Hitler. Still, the rhetoric has had a distinct tea party flavor.

Take the session titles, to start with. Among them: “Silencing the Christians,” “Obamacare: Rationing Your Life Away,” “Thugocracy: Fighting the Vast Left-wing Conspiracy,” “Global Warming Hysteria,” “Countering the Homosexual Agenda in Public Schools,” and “The New Masculinity.”

Still time to get to that last one, guys, where we will be told that “feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men.” The answer? A new “masculinism.”

Though this weekend’s event is more traditionally conservative, its sign-waving, more confrontational street version is certainly being cheered along.

In a lunch speech Saturday, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney praised the “millions of Americans who have stepped up in town halls and tea parties across the country.”

“When government is trying to take over healthcare, buying car companies, bailing out banks, and giving half the White House staff the title of czar, we have every good reason to be alarmed and to speak our mind,” Romney said.

Be careful not to stereotype, however.

Many younger evangelicals -- the type quite likely to be seen tea-partying or at this weekend’s conservative summit -- apparently have a noticeably different set of values than their elders. For example, 44 percent favor a larger government offering more services -- nearly twice the percentage of older evangelicals. They’re also more likely -- 52 percent to 34 percent -- to approve of same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Activities at the Values Voters Summit include one of the first straw polls for the 2012 presidential nomination. On the ballot are Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.

“The 2012 presidential primaries may be several years away but many value voters are already surveying the field of possible candidates,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, which has been hosting the summit since 2006.

 Fox News (not surprisingly) was the first to report the straw poll's results:

The summit's poll, which featured 9 presidential prospects, found that 28 percent of Christian conservatives said Huckabee would revive the Republican party and traditional conservative principles while 12.4 percent preferred former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Other strong contenders included Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who won over 12.23 percent of conservative voters. Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence came out in in a virtual tie at 12.06 percent and 11.89 percent, respectively.

Some are wondering why Palin didn't come to this weekend's event. She’s always been a great crowd-pleaser at conservative gatherings, and what better place to be if she wants to keep her political base energized for future public office.

Maybe because it’s moose-hunting season in Alaska?

No, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton told The Washington Times. “The Palins are expecting the return of eldest son Track this weekend from a yearlong deployment with an Army combat brigade in Iraq.”

“Mrs. Palin also has her first major paid speaking engagement in Hong Kong” in a few days, she added.

Not a bad way to begin developing foreign policy credentials. And you can see China from there.

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