At this year’s conference, Romney will be a headliner tomorrow night, Huckabee appears by video Saturday, and McCain… won’t be there at all. Despite being in Washington D.C. for the day on Saturday with no public appearances, the Arizona senator isn’t expected to take up the offer to speak at the summit, organized by the Family Research Council’s legislative arm and co-sponsored by the likes of Focus on the Family and Gary Bauer’s “American Values” group.
According to The Brody File, Palin was actually scheduled to appear but then pulled out at the last minute, just as she did with Phyllis Schlafly’s reception at the Republican convention, but offered to send a video message, which organizer’s of the Values Voter Summit dismissed as “not enough.”
But just because Palin and McCain don’t want to be seen with the Right doesn’t mean that the Right is holding it against them. In fact, the Right seems to fully understand that McCain has already caved to them and thus they are perfectly happy with his efforts to distance himself from them in order to get back to pretending to be a maverick:
John McCain won’t attend a gathering of religious conservatives this weekend — and the Republican presidential nominee won’t have to ask forgiveness.
The Arizona senator’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has appeased the evangelical and social conservatives who form his party’s core voters. Now, they are letting him know that he doesn’t need to further demonstrate his fealty.
Last year, McCain felt compelled to appear at the Values Voter Summit in Washington to woo the religious conservatives who have long mistrusted him. That’s not necessary this time: members of the movement now “know exactly what’s going on,” said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio and a summit attendee.
“I understand if he thinks he’s got us,” said Burress, who led Ohio’s 2004 effort to ban gay marriage. “The Palin appointment guaranteed his base.”
“If he can spend his time somewhere else gathering votes, then that’s where he should be,” Burress said. “The important thing is winning,” he said, reflecting a new pragmatism from evangelicals who have been slow to embrace McCain.
Richard Land, a leader of the 18 million-member Southern Baptist convention, said conservatives appreciate McCain’s efforts and don’t expect him to make their agenda a cornerstone of his campaign in the closing two months of the election, at least publicly.
“Actions speak louder than words and Sarah Palin speaks not just volumes, but a whole library,” Land said.