CPAC

The More Moderate, Less Heated Religious Right?

There are certain articles that seem to pop up on a semi-regular basis that I just can never understand. The first are the obligatory "The Religious Right is Dead" articles that get written every time the GOP loses an election ... and they are inevitable followed a few years later by articles marveling at the Right's miraculous resurrection.

The other articles I don't understand are more recent, beginning back when Mike Huckabee was running for president, in which it is asserted that the Religious Right is getting toning down its rhetoric and somehow broadening its agenda.

Articles like this:

Fire and brimstone evangelicalism has simmered down into a broader movement of cooler approaches.

Yet much of what has been said about the expanded political agenda and softer tone of evangelical Christians has missed the point, say observers of the Christian right.

"Every time a Democrat gets elected they say: 'That's the end of the Christian conservatives. They're gone,' " said D.C.-based Ethics and Public Policy Center vice president Michael Cromartie. "But they're not. Broadening their agenda doesn't mean they are suddenly liberal Democrats."

And evangelicals, Cromartie said, are not abandoning their core issues: traditional marriage and sanctity of life. "Climate change does not trump pro-life issues."

Although the rhetoric is gentler, the politics are the same. The money is going to lobby for the same things. The basic voting structure was largely unchanged in 2008, pollsters say.

"We want to be relevant to a new generation, but we plan to stay strong on the pillars Dr. James Dobson built at Focus on the Family," said Tom Minnery, the ministry's senior vice president of government and public policy.

...

Jim Daly, the 48-year-old head of Focus on the Family media ministry, is seen inside the conservative Christian organization as less authoritarian and more approachable than his predecessor, the 73-year- old Dobson.

Outside the organization, Cromartie said, Daly is seen as more affable and willing to seek common ground.

"As (Focus on the Family) tries to reach the next generation of young families, we're trying to use words that work," Minnery said.

What evidence is there that "fire and brimstone evangelicalism has simmered down"?  The article provides none.  

Have they even been paying attention to anything the Religious Right has been saying lately

As for the idea that Focus on the Family is moderating its tone, that remains to be seen.  James Dobson is still, for all intents and purposes, the voice of the organization and will remain so until he finally leaves next month.  If the organization does become more willing to seek common ground and less confrontational under Daly, that will certainly be newsworthy, but for now it is impossible to say.

If journalists want to declare that the Religious Right is moderating its tone and broadening its agenda, they ought to at least provide some evidence, because I haven't seen any.  If anything, the Right is getting more radical and its language more strident under Obama than it has ever been in recent years.

Beck, Bachmann, Farah, Santorum, Schlafly Team Up For Another Right Wing Conference

There sure do seem to be a lot of right-wing conferences coming up.  You have the annual CPAC convention and the first National Tea Party Convention, in addition to first annual Freedom Federation Summit, the Family Research Council's "Faith & Family Summit," and Janet Porter's May Day for America prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

To this list we can add The Constitutional Coalition's 2010 conference entitled "What Makes America Work? Lessons Children and Others MUST hear" which features everyone from Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum to Phyllis Schlafly and Joseph Farah and will be highlighted by "An Evening With Glenn Beck."

Just check out some of these speakers and topics:

- SENATOR RICK SANTORUM and KEN FERGUSON How to rid your TV of ALL Sexual programs and advertisements

- MICHAEL MEDVED, Lies About America that Must Stop

- PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY Child Abuse in the Classroom

- DAVID HOROWITZ Teaching Revolution on College Campus

- FRANK GAFNEY It is a Dangerous World – America Under Attack

- AN EVENING WITH GLENN BECK

- CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN Fundamentals of a Good Education That will keep us Free and Strong

- DR. JERRY NEWCOMBE ENDOWED BY OUR CREATOR: The Role of God in America

- SENATOR RICK SANTORUM CREATED LIFE: The Declaration, Life and Liberty

- JOSEPH FARAH FREE IDEAS: America’s Unique Freedom of the Press

- SENATOR JIM TALENT SECURITY: The Constitutional and Moral Underpinnings of National Defense

Liberty Counsel: Still Silent On Lisa Miller

It has been more than two week now since Lisa Miller disappeared with her daughter and yet nobody from Liberty Counsel, which had spent years turning her into a right-wing cause célèbre, has so much as uttered a peep about her disappearance. 

At the same time, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver has been readily available to comment on CPAC and participate in Lou Engle's anti-abortion prayer rally in Houston ... but apparently can't find the time to say one word about this missing girl:

UPDATE: The Burlington Free Press reports that a "Jan. 22 hearing has been set in Rutland about a request from Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven to have her former civil-union partner, Lisa Miller, held in contempt over Miller's refusal to transfer custody to Jenkins of daughter Isabella, as ordered."

Focus Will Not Drop CPAC Co-Sponsorship Over GOProud

Last week, Liberty University Law School announced that it was withdrawing its sponsorship of the upcoming CPAC conference because event organizers refused to cave to their demands that the conservative gay group GOProud be dropped from the list of co-sponsors.

So far, only Liberty Law School has backed out (even the affiliated Liberty Counsel, which is run by Liberty Law School's Dean, Mat Staver, is still participating) and LU doesn't seem to be picking up much support in its effort to boycott the event, with Focus on the Family announcing that it will remain a co-sponsor of the event, if only to counter GOProud's agenda

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus on the Family Action, says he has no problem with the fact that several of the other CPAC co-sponsors disagree with Focus on the Family, including GOProud.

"We think we've got to engage the broader conservative movement and to be salt and light in that environment," he explains. "We believe that social conservatism, biblical Christianity has a lot to say to the political culture -- and we want to be where the action is, so that's why we're engaging it."

Minnery believes boycotting the event is the wrong strategy for social conservatives.

"I dearly hope that Liberty University continues to have its booth and will rethink its co-sponsorship for next year because that group is very important -- and we need all the help we can get to inculcate that conference with conservative Christian values," says the Focus spokesman.

According to Minnery, if all social conservative groups "charge off in a huff, pick up our marbles and go home," there will be no one at CPAC to counter the agenda of GOProud.

How Times Have Changed For Glenn Beck

It was just over a year ago when Focus on the Family yanked a small interview with Glenn Beck off of its website amid complaints that Focus never mentioned that Beck is Mormon and that "Mormonism is a cult."

Well, times sure have changed:

And considering that Beck has become the voice of the Right, it only stands to reason that he'd be closing out this year's CPAC event:

Last year, the Conservative Political Action Conference closed with a speech from Rush Limbaugh. This year, according to CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale, it will close with a speech from Glenn Beck–who really became a national leader of some importance last year, if you talk to Tea Party activists.

Liberty Law School Withdraws From CPAC Over GOProud Sponsorship

For the last few weeks, the militantly anti-gay activists at Liberty Counsel, led by Matt Barber, have been threatening to boycott the annual CPAC convention if organizers didn't force the gay conservative group GOProud to withdraw as a sponsor. 

Event organizers recently declared that they would not do so, so now Liberty University Law School has withdrawn its own sponsorship, though the affiliated Liberty Counsel will still participate:

Liberty University Law School has withdrawn as a co-sponsor of next month's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington because a Republican homosexual activist group is being allowed to co-sponsor the event.

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Liberty Law School Dean Mat Staver had penned a letter to CPAC organizer David Keene last month, requesting that he disallow the homosexual group GOProud from co-sponsoring the conference. The letter was also signed by other evangelical Christian leaders, including Gary Bauer.

GOProud supports, among other things, same-sex marriage and repealing the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

Staver reports that he never received a formal response to his complaint, so Liberty University is dropping its co-sponsorship. Liberty Counsel, however, will still have a booth at CPAC.

"Obviously as an exhibitor or participant, you don't necessarily have to think that everyone agrees with you, and some people might even work against you," Staver notes. "But as a co-sponsor, even though not everybody would have the same mission, not everyone would agree with the same tactics, and some would actually focus on economics whereas others might focus on social issues and others might focus on national defense - the fact is they're all conservative in nature. You wouldn't expect, however, a co-sponsor to actively work to undermine another co-sponsor, and that is in fact what GOProud does."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Does Glenn Beck have a tax problem?
  • I expect that Marco Rubio will get a warm reception when he speaks at CPAC.
  • Pat Robertson's CBN is celebrating 50 years of ministry.
  • Day Gardner weighs in on Harry Reid: "I believe the comments made by Senator Harry Reid stems from a time in American history where the shade of a black man's skin determined whether he was a field nigger or a house nigger. Either way, to the slave owner he was still just a slave; a sub-human to be owned and controlled."
  • Finally, guess who Sean Hannity had on his radio program last week?  Kitty Werthmann.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters: Huckabee violating Fox News' reported order to stop conflict of interest promotions
  • TPM: GOP Rep Launches Terror News YouTube Series, Warns Of Muslim Brotherhood Plot
  • Alex Koppelman: What's Lou Dobbs up to?
  • Steve Benen: Rudy the Clown
  • Finally, GOProud apparently thinks that liberals ought to be cheering them on for co-sponsoring CPAC.

Palin's Incoherent Excuse For Skipping CPAC

Once again, Sarah Palin will be skipping CPAC, traditionally the biggest conservative political gathering of the year, apparently because she's a maverick who doesn't want to be associated with those who place "special interests over core beliefs": 

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Pain is turning down an invitation to speak at one high-profile conservative gathering while accepting another.

Palin is declining an invitation to address the Conservative Political Action Conference next month because, a source said, she does not want to be affiliated with the longtime organizer of the traditional movement confab.

At issue is the role of David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union which organizes CPAC. In September, POLITICO reported that Keene asked FedEx for between $2 million and $3 million to get the group's support in a bitter legislative battle with rival UPS.

A source close to the Palin camp says that request led to a decision to stay away from the upcoming CPAC conference, calling it a forum that will place "special interests over core beliefs" and "pocketbook over policy."

"That's not what CPAC should be about and people are tiring," the source said. "Palin is taking a stance against this just as she did in Alaska."

When asked about the move, Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said: "We support those who advance our core beliefs and lead by principle."

Interestingly, Palin seems to be the only one taking this sort of "principled" stand dozens of conservative groups have signed on as co-sponsors of the event, including Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Eagle Forum.

Even more interesting is this fact:

While Palin was turning down CPAC, she accepted an invitation to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this April.

"I'm looking forward to addressing conservative activists from across the south at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference," Palin said in a statement announcing her attendance. "This is a great opportunity to listen and speak to those who are helping to set the direction of our party."

Well, take a guess who else is co-sponsoring CPAC.  That's right, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

So Palin doesn't want to associate with CPAC because its organizers don't "advance our core beliefs and lead by principle" ... but will speak at a conference hosted by a group that is co-sponsoring CPAC?  

That makes a lot of sense. 

And apparently she believes the folks putting on the National Tea Party Convention do share her core beliefs and lead by principle, which is why she is eager to share the stage with people like Joseph Farah and Rick Scarborough.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Focus on the Family says it is "fully engaged in making our objection known" to CPAC's decision to allow the gay conservative group GOProud to co-sponsor the event.
  • Speaking of Focus, the organization is also reportedly preparing to run an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl.
  • James Traficant says that he is going to run for Congress in 2010.
  • Rep. Parker Griffith's entire staff resigned after his recent decision to switch parties and become a Republican.
  • Christian Anti-Defamation Commission released its list of the "Top Ten Anti-Christian Attacks in 2009."
  • Finally, do you know what is causing the delay in the Messiah's appearance in Israel? Abortion, of course.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • What is FRC's New Year's Resolution, you ask? To kill healthcare reform.
  • Joseph Farah is miffed that CPAC will allow a gay group to co-sponsor the event, but won't let him talk about his Birther activism.
  • Concerned Women for America endorses Rand Paul.
  • For a mere $349, you can see Sarah Palin speak at the National Tea Party Convention.
  • A Liberty University professor expects to find Noah's Ark sometime next summer.
  • Blake Lorenz may face charges for harboring Rifqa Bary for two weeks without notifying law-enforcement, as required by law.

CPAC Won't Drop GOProud Sponsorship

David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, which puts on the Conservative Political Action Conference every year, has responded to the complaints from anti-gay activists who are demanded that the gay conservative group GOProud be removed from the list of CPAC co-sponsors, by refusing to do so but assuring them that GOProud will not be allowed to speak at the event and that the CPAC's overwhelmingly anti-gay bias would not be undermined by GOProud's presence: 

Keene admitted GOProud "has signed on as a CPAC co-sponsor, but will have no speakers and we told them that, in fact, since opposition to gay marriage, etc are consensus positions (if not unanimous) among conservatives, these topics are not open to debate." 

...

"I know that there are those who are as opposed to the sinner as the sin, but our view is that CPAC is inclusive and welcomes all of those who agree with us on most issues. I don't know the GOProud people personally, but we find it difficult to exclude groups because of disagreements on one or two issues no matter how important many of us believe those issues to be … other examples: we have pro-life and pro-abortion co-sponsors, advocates of restrictive and more open immigration, supporters and opponents of the war in Afghanistan and supporters and opponents of some of the restrictions adopted in the war on terror since 9/11," he continued.

"Some of these issues draw significant support on both sides of the question from the broad movement and these we often debate at CPAC … trade policy, immigration are example … while others like abortion are consensus positions and while we accept those who differ from the consensus, we see no reason for further debate. Gay issues fall within this category," he said.

Of course, anti-gay activists aren't buying it and instead see it as proof that the conservative movement is being infiltrated by socialists:

"I would have thought the American Conservative Union would have had a higher standard for groups that cosponsor their pivotal annual event," [radio host Adam] McManus told WND. "If there's one time when conservatives need to be getting their message right and need to be clear about what they believe, it's right now amidst the Obama socialist push."

The Pathetic State of the Anti-Gay Right

Last week we noted that Peter LaBarbera was reporting that anti-gay right-wing groups, led by Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber, were threatening to boycott the next CPAC convention if the conservative gay organization GOProud was allowed to remain as a co-sponsor.

LaBarbera's piece contained his paragraph:

It boils down to this: there is nothing “conservative” about — as Barber inimitably puts it — “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’” Or two women awkwardly mimicking natural procreative relations or raising a child together in an intentionally fatherless home. This does not mean that people practicing those and other immoral (and changeable) behaviors cannot think and act conservatively on other issues like lowering taxes, cutting government spending, ending abortion, etc. But let’s be honest: the “proud” in GOProud is not about pride in opposing the death tax, or defending the right to bear arms; it’s about proudly embracing sinful homosexual behavior – and that is hardly a conservative value.

On Friday, Exodus International took issue with Barber's quote and contacted Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver about it, who responded by denying that Barber had ever said such a thing:

“Neither Matt Barber nor anyone with Liberty Counsel wrote or made any such public statement that is being alleged in this blog. Liberty Counsel promotes the traditional family of one man and one woman because we believe that such relationships are best for society and for children. While we strongly disagree with the sexual politics and agenda of activist organizations and individuals, we also believe that each person is entitled to respect. While there are some that hate us because of our message of sexual integrity, redemption, change, and hope, we have never, and will never, confuse the person with the agenda. We have never sought to dehumanize people to promote our message. Our message is one of redemption through the power of Jesus Christ.”

LaBarbera then showed up in the comments to the Exodus post and insisted that Barber had indeed made the comments in question and that Barber had given him permission to quote him.

Then Barber weighed in to say that they were both right - he had made the statement, but before he started working for Liberty Counsel:

“This is for clarification only. As affirmed in Liberty Counsel’s statement, neither I nor anyone with Liberty Counsel ever publicly ‘wrote or made’ the comment in question – an unapologetically direct and accurate depiction of the sin of sodomy (a sin that God directly and accurately calls both an ‘abomination’ and ‘detestable’). Some years before I began working with Liberty Counsel, I made the comment in private conversation with Peter LaBarbera. At the time, Peter asked if he could ‘quote me on it’ and I said yes."

Barber is among the most vicious of anti-gay activists.  He routinely launches attacks calling gays "homo-fascists" and liberals modern day Baal worshipers, while likening homosexuality to incest and bestiality ... but he wants it known that while he did make the statement in question and stands by it wholeheartedly, he didn't make it while he was working for Liberty Counsel.

As if that makes one iota of difference.

Staver's claim that they "believe that each person is entitled to respect" is utterly laughable given his own history of outrageous anti-gay statements.  Liberty Counsel was fully aware of Barber's rapidly anti-gay views when they hired him away from Concerned Women for America, and to try and claim that Barber's views don't represent the organization because he made them several years ago is pathetic considering that it was because of those views that Liberty Counsel hired him in the first place.

Right Wing Round-Up

Religious Right Threatens CPAC Boycott Over Gay Group's Sponsorship

Earlier this year, GOProud, a new gay conservative group, appeared on the scene intent on finding ways to sell the conservative agenda to gays. 

Their approach has been to eschew the "traditional" gay issues like hate crimes protections or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in favor arguing that healthcare reform would be bad for gays, that "the inheritance tax is really a gay tax," or claiming that the best way to stop hate crimes is to expand gun ownership.

But GOProud does also support things like marriage equality and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell ... and for that reason the Religious Right's professional anti-gay activists at Americans for Truth and the Liberty Counsel are now threatening to boycott the annual CPAC conference if GOProud is allowed to serve as an official co-sponsor:

Folks, for years religious conservatives have been complaining about getting the shaft from CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. There is usually only a token panel or two dealing with “Culture War” social issues like abortion and homosexuality (and rarely one explicitly on fighting the “gay” agenda) – as organizers seek to appease the CPAC libertarians, some of whom support goals like homosexual “marriage” that are anathema to socially conservatives.

Now CPAC’s tenuous ”Big Tent” could collapse altogether as social conservatives led by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber threaten to launch a boycott of the conference (scheduled for Feb. 18-20, 2010) unless CPAC drops a homosexual activist group, GOProud, as a co-sponsor. Barber, my good friend, an AFTAH Board Member, and the Director of Cultural Affairs at Liberty Counsel, is leading the charge to keep the CPAC sponsorship list … conservative.

...

It boils down to this: there is nothing “conservative” about — as Barber inimitably puts it — “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’” Or two women awkwardly mimicking natural procreative relations or raising a child together in an intentionally fatherless home. This does not mean that people practicing those and other immoral (and changeable) behaviors cannot think and act conservatively on other issues like lowering taxes, cutting government spending, ending abortion, etc. But let’s be honest: the “proud” in GOProud is not about pride in opposing the death tax, or defending the right to bear arms; it’s about proudly embracing sinful homosexual behavior – and that is hardly a conservative value.

I challenge every thinking conservative to explain why we should jettison our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage (which clearly rejects homosexual acts as immoral) for some new, secularized brand of “conservatism” that fails to conserve natural, normal, and noble sex within God-ordained marriage. Where does the expansion of “conservatism” stop? Would CPAC welcome “Republicans for Abortion” as a co-sponsor? How about “Conservatives For Higher Taxes”? We doubt it. So let’s stop the double-standard on one issue — homosexuality — that happens to be politically incorrect in this decadent age.

The American Family Association is also voicing its opposition:

Bryan Fischer is director of issues analysis for the American Family Association and host of the radio program Focal Point with Bryan Fischer. He says CPAC chairman David Keene and CPAC organizers have a serious problem on their hands.

"The bottom line is that homosexuality is not a conservative value," Fischer states emphatically. "There are any number of co-sponsoring organizations that I believe are going to have a real problem with the fact that they are giving such a prominent place to an organization which is such an active proponent of gay rights."

"And it's GOProud, they're identifying themselves with the Republican Party...and yet their legislative agenda is directly contrary to the platform of the Republican Party."

As I wrote last year, though there is significant overlap, those who attend the CPAC conference have distinctly different priorities from those who attend the strictly Religious Right conferences like the Values Voter Summit.

It'll be interesting to see how CPAC organizers managed to handle this controversy.  I'm guessing that GOProud will eventually "voluntarily" withdraw their sponsorship.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Matthew Yglesias: War on Christmas Just Got More Fierce.
  • Pam's House Blend: GOProud calls for President to speak out against Uganda's execute gays bill (You know, maybe GOProud should be calling on some of its CPAC allies to speak out as well.)
  • Sarah Posner: Rick Warren condemns the punishment but not inflammatory rhetoric.
  • Think Progress: Tea Party activists to ‘storm Senate offices’ and ‘stay there until they force us to leave.’
  • Tapped: CAIR Tipped Off The FBI.
  • Media Matters: AIM blog post smearing Jennings as a "pedophile" removed from site.
  • Finally, it's amazing that ABC let an insightful media professional like John Stossel get away.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Max Blumenthal profiles Rick Santorum as he ponders a presidential run.
  • Alan Colmes: TN Mayor Apologizes For Claiming Obama Timed Speech To Preempt Charlie Brown.
  • Kevin Drum: GOP Fun and Games.
  • Joe.My.God: GOProud To Co-Sponsor CPAC 2010.
  • Eric Boehlert: The end of the Wash. Times and Rev. Moon's right-wing charity.
  • Finally, it's getting to the point where you couldn't even parody the Right if you tried.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Marco Rubio will be a keynote speaker at the next CPAC.
  • Tim LaHaye has now teamed up with Craig Parshall for a new series of apocalyptic novels.
  • Tom Tancredo says he is going to run for Governor in Colorado.
  • Gordon Klingenschmitt wants you to pay $17 to urge Senators to filibuster David Hamilton.
  • The perfect storm: Carrie Prejean interviewed by the co-author of Sarah Palin's new book.
  • Patrick Mahoney: Why is the FBI harassing me instead of Nidal Malik Hasan?
  • Next Monday, anti-Islam activists plan to rally for Rifqa.
  • Finally, FRC says Washington DC can't afford to not let religious groups discriminate because the city "will quickly find [that] without faith there is little good works."

Pawlenty Plans Ahead for 2012

Last summer, when names were being floated as potential running mates for John McCain, one of the names that kept popping up was Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Around that same time, Pawlenty suddenly started showing up on the national Religious Right scene, conducting outreach on behalf of the McCain campaign by sitting down with CBN's David Brody where he talked about the importance of "my faith in Christ" and promised that McCain would "make evangelicals proud."

He didn't get the position as McCain's running mate, but that didn't stop him from continuing with his outreach to the Religious Right, this time on his own behalf, like when he showed up at CPAC a few months later and exhorted the audience to make sure that faith in God remained at the “forefront of the values, principles and issues” of the conservative movement and then made similar claims at the recent Values Voter Summit about how "Judeo-Christian values are ... the basis for so much of our country."

All of this outreach to the Right suggested that Pawlenty was seriously considering making a run for the White House in 2012.  And indeed that looks to be exactly the case:

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has enlisted a number of GOP strategists from John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, another sign that he’s planning a run for president in 2012.

Pawlenty has snagged a stable of well-known Republicans to help host his first fundraiser for the Freedom First PAC, his new political action committee, according to an invitation to the kickoff event in Washington obtained by The Hill.

Shoring up the party’s brightest political minds early could prove to be an integral step toward mounting a presidential bid. He’s also making his first official trip of the new presidential cycle to Iowa next month, another important move.

Freedom Federation Welcomes Huckabee

We've written several posts about the new right-wing supergroup known as the Freedom Federation over the last few months.  Consisting of various right wing groups including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, the American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, Wallbuilders, Vision America, and many others, the group's mission is to create a unified political front for the Religious Right.

Today, Deacon Keith Fournier writes in Catholic Online that he was recently invited to attend a meeting of the Freedom Federation's steering committee but was reluctant to go ... until he found out that they were going to have a special guest speaker - Mike Huckabee:

I have made some inspiring new friendships with champions such as Rev. Sam Rodriquez and Bishop Harry Jackson. And, it is a joy after several years to renew old ones with my friends Ken Blackwell and Matt Staver. However, the drive to Washington D.C., even with good “beltway traffic” is at least four hours for me since I moved back to Chesapeake, Virginia. I am “swamped” these days, on every front of my life. So, let me be honest. I accepted the invitation because a special guest had promised to drop by and share his thoughts. That special guest is one of my favorite public servants, the former Governor of Arkansas and former Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.

I have long admired this genuinely good man. I had the privilege of interviewing him for Catholic Online during the last Presidential campaign. We have published those interviews as related stories under this article. When he entered the meeting, filled with dedicated people (mostly evangelical protestant leaders, though this time I was not the only Catholic) who themselves possess leadership gifts, he filled the room with his presence. Real leaders have a presence about them which just fills the room. His warm smile and attention to every person he greeted was impressive. His warmth toward me made the long drive worthwhile. However, it was his insights, shared over the course of a long and dynamic meeting which convinced me that this is a man who has not even begun to give his gifts to the service of his Nation.

I sat next to the Governor and, I must admit, I invited some of his responses through my own questions and observations. I could say he “had me” when he called my champion, the late Servant of God John Paul II, “one of the great spiritual and Christian leaders of our lifetime” and shared anecdotal stories from the late Pope’s life. However, there was much more to come in the rich content of his intelligent public policy positions. It was the substance of those deeply held positions on the issues which matter most which won the day and only deepened my admiration for the man. He breaks the molds of the empty political labels of “left/right”, “liberal/conservative.” He espouses truly human, just and concerned positions. I will be returning to them, I am sure, in future articles. However, permit me to share just one of his comments.

In the context of discussing the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life from conception, to birth, throughout life and up to and including a natural death - what I call the “whole life/pro-life” position, which the Governor clearly embraces - he said these words: “To say that one person has value, but another does not, that one has human dignity but another does not, or somehow has less… that is the kind of thinking that slavery was built upon, and worse… . The dignity of every human person and the value of every human life must be the pole star of all public policy.” These words are not a slogan, they are a creed to the Governor, a deeply help vision of life and worldview. They flowed from the heart of a man who cares deeply about this nation and about our future together.

Many of the leaders of the Freedom Federation's member organizations backed Huckabee's presidential bid back in 2008, but many others did not, for which Huckabee regularly and roundly blasted them as sell-outs.  Since then, he has been hard at work positioning himself as the Religious Right's most ardent defender and the effort has recently begun paying dividends.

Huckabee continues to insist that he has not decided on whether he will make another run for president in 2012 ... but he certainly seems to be working hard to win over and unify the Religious Right behind him in case he decides to do so. 

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CPAC Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 6:04pm
PFAW: PFAW Condemns Abortion Provider Murder Bill.   Alvin McEwen: Family Research Council has yet to come out with 'detailed response' against SPLC charges.   Kate Conway & Julia Krieger @ Equality Matters: Rep. Steve King Proudly Recalls Confronting "Screaming, Profane Gays."   Todd A. Heywood @ Michigan Messenger: Anti-gay activists appeal ruling on hate crimes law.   Alan Colmes: Kansas State Rep. Knows An Illegal Immigrant Because “She Had The Olive Complexion.”   Jason Hancock @ Iowa... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 6:04pm
PFAW: PFAW Condemns Abortion Provider Murder Bill.   Alvin McEwen: Family Research Council has yet to come out with 'detailed response' against SPLC charges.   Kate Conway & Julia Krieger @ Equality Matters: Rep. Steve King Proudly Recalls Confronting "Screaming, Profane Gays."   Todd A. Heywood @ Michigan Messenger: Anti-gay activists appeal ruling on hate crimes law.   Alan Colmes: Kansas State Rep. Knows An Illegal Immigrant Because “She Had The Olive Complexion.”   Jason Hancock @ Iowa... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 5:48pm
Do you ever get the impression that Rep. Michele Bachmann just has no idea what she is talking about? Donald Trump loves marriage so much he has had three of them, but doesn't think gays deserve any. I don't think that David Brody really understands the Birthers or their demands. Harry Jackson does not appear too impressed by any of the possible GOP presidential candidates. Bryan Fischer explains that Europeans wouldn't have had to try and wipe out Native Americans if they had all been good Christians like Pocahontas. Finally, the ACLJ made a movie... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:44am
As we noted yesterday, the American Family Association has pulled Bryan Fischer's recent blog post asserting that Native Americans were "morally disqualified" from exercising control over North America and that Europeans were justified in taking it by force. So far, the AFA has not offered any statement on why it did so and all we have gotten is Fischer's side as he claims it was taken down because people are just "not mature" enough to handle the truth and was becoming a distraction because the Left was just too "dim-witted" to understand that Fischer was... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:44am
As we noted yesterday, the American Family Association has pulled Bryan Fischer's recent blog post asserting that Native Americans were "morally disqualified" from exercising control over North America and that Europeans were justified in taking it by force. So far, the AFA has not offered any statement on why it did so and all we have gotten is Fischer's side as he claims it was taken down because people are just "not mature" enough to handle the truth and was becoming a distraction because the Left was just too "dim-witted" to understand that Fischer was... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:10am
While the Conservative Political Action Conference may be over, the controversy over the gathering’s handling continues. RedState Editor-in-Chief and CNN commentator Erick Erickson first criticized GOProud, the gay conservative group whose involvement in CPAC sparked a Religious Right boycott, for attacking prominent right-wing leaders. Now, Erickson is going after Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform and a GOProud adviser who knocked CPAC boycotters as “loser organizations.” Norquist has long been a target of far-right groups for his outreach to Muslim... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 10:10am
While the Conservative Political Action Conference may be over, the controversy over the gathering’s handling continues. RedState Editor-in-Chief and CNN commentator Erick Erickson first criticized GOProud, the gay conservative group whose involvement in CPAC sparked a Religious Right boycott, for attacking prominent right-wing leaders. Now, Erickson is going after Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform and a GOProud adviser who knocked CPAC boycotters as “loser organizations.” Norquist has long been a target of far-right groups for his outreach to Muslim... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 9:29am
Michele Bachmann New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14). CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11). Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10). Haley Barbour Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14). Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14). Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The... MORE >