On the first day of the summit, however, a beauty queen was the talk of the event.
Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California who blames her loss in the 2009 Miss USA contest on the fact that she stated her opposition to same-sex marriage, told attendees that "even though I didn't win the crown that night, I know that the Lord has so much of a bigger crown in heaven for me."
She said Friday morning that "God had a plan for me that day" that she lost the beauty contest because "he knew I was strong enough to get through all the junk that I've been through." Added Prejean, who is releasing a book in November: "I was a woman who stood up for the truth and people don't want to admit that. I had the courage and the bravery that a lot of people don't have."
Prejean became a conservative hero after her answer prompted criticism from liberal commentators. She was introduced today by the leader of a group that opposes same-sex marriage as "our Miss America."
The ideological underpinnings of the Values Voters Summit, which goes through Sunday, can be divined from the names of the breakout sessions: "Speechless - Silencing The Christians, "Thugocracy - Fighting The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy," "The Threat Of Illegal Immigration," "Global Warming Hysteria" and "Obamacare: Rationing Your Life Away" among them. It is co-sponsored by a number of heavy-hitters in the social conservative movement, including the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family Action, the American Family Association and the Heritage Foundation.
4620389Huckabee, the 2008 presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, also spoke Friday morning. He said President Obama's "audacity of hope" had become the "audacity of hypocrisy," the New York Times reports.
Huckabee said he had not decided if he would run for president in 2012. But he did take a shot at his 2008 rival Mitt Romney, attacking the universal health care system the former Massachusetts governor orchestrated as something that is "going to bankrupt their entire budget," as CNN reports.
Huckabee also told attendees that "life begins at conception and ends when God calls us home, not when Ezekiel Emanuel calls us home," the Wall Street Journal reports, a reference to the Obama administration advisor (and brother of White House chief of staff Rahm) whose writings have attracted the ire of conservatives.
McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said the "grassroots activism" of the attendees "started at your kitchen tables; and your living rooms," according to the Times.
Countering claims by Democrats that some of the opposition to health care reform efforts had been orchestrated, he said instead "it was born out of a sense of urgency about the future, and it was underwritten by you, not a public relations firm in Washington."
He added that "the organized left has attempted to dismiss you as cranks, as scare-mongers or worse."
Cantor, the House minority whip, said many Americans don't "recognize their country anymore," according to the Journal. He said summit attendees are "fighting on the front lines in a battle that is truly for the future of our democracy."
Actor and conservative talk show host Stephen Baldwin, meanwhile, told ABC News at the summit that former president Jimmy Carter "is a dum-dum" for suggesting that racism plays a role in criticism of the president.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the few social conservatives who are skipping the event, the Washington Times reports, with Palin opting to welcome her son Track home from Iraq.
The summit will include a "2012 Presidential Straw Poll," the results of which will be announced Saturday. Gingrich, Huckabee, Palin, Pawlenty, Romney, Bobby Jindal, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, and Rick Santorum are on the ballot.