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Brownback's Last Hurrah

Republican Sam Brownback is ending his presidential campaign today in Topeka, Kan., but he didn't let that stop him from getting in one last speech. But it may not have been such a hard decision for Brownback to make, since he was speaking in front of a very receptive audience: the attendees of the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington.

This crowd, after all, was the one Brownback hoped would lift his presidential campaign off the ground, despite him being a prairie state senator with a narrow national profile. That plan didn't work out as he had hoped, but Brownback apparently didn't want to back out on the evangelical voters who have comprised the core of his limited support.

His speech contained no references to his presidential run, and none to his expected withdrawal. But it contained plenty of red meat for a conservative Christian audience. "The separation of church and state does not mean the removal of faith from the public square," he said to applause. "Any country that's walked away from God has walked away from its future."

He also called Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that established a national right to abortion, "a legal fiction, built on a lie," and focused almost exclusively on that issue, his opposition to same-sex marriage, and his support for a strong role for faith in public life.

One of his lines did fall flat – when he called for dignified treatment of immigrants, an allusion to his support for the immigration overhaul legislation that many watching his speech oppose. But Brownback did draw a much more enthusiastic response from this crowd than John McCain, who was more somber in a speech that focused mostly on national security and his experiences as a prisoner of war. As curtain calls go, it was probably the best a second-tier presidential hopeful could expect.