Every year, Republican leaders flock to the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which gives them a chance to curry favor with Religious Right activists and gives FRC President Tony Perkins a chance to assert his political influence.
So it caused a minor hubbub last year when Perkins pointedly refused to invite presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Chris Christie to speak at the summit, saying that they “shouldn’t take it the wrong way” but they “just weren’t on the top of the list” for “values voters.”
We were interested, then, to see that Bush is not listed as an invited speaker at this year’s summit:
When, as recently as July, Bush was listed as invited:
Bush, for his part, seems to have been doing what he can to woo Perkins, meeting with him at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year and saying that he has “a lot of respect for Tony and his group.”
Interestingly, the Christian Post reported yesterday that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump had turned down his invitation to speak at the summit and Perkins was miffed, saying that Trump was “not interested” in speaking with evangelicals:
Although some polls have shown that the misogynistic real estate mogul who once favored abortion and carries liberal views on same-sex marriage has had no trouble gaining the support of Evangelicals , Perkins asserted that Trump’s refusal to speak at the conference is a sign that he has no interest in conversing with Evangelicals.
“We have got the Values Voters Summit coming up and Donald Trump has passed. He is not going to come,” Perkins said. “I think that is going to send a message to Evangelicals and values voters that he wants their support, but he is not really interested in having a conversation with them.”
“I think that is probably about the time, in about three or four weeks, people are going to start thinking more seriously about this as we move forward into the year,” Perkins continued. “[Trump’s absence], whether it was intended to or not, it will send a message.”
“I think [Trump] is going to have to have conversations with Evangelicals and talk about issues they care about. He hasn’t really done that in a way that is convincing,” Perkins argued. “Could [Trump] make some progress with Evangelicals? I think he could if he tried, but I don’t really see that happening right now.”