WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three days after conservatives converged on the nation's capital to express their concerns about a number of the Obama administration's policies, a leading social conservative has a warning for the Republican Party.
"The public is not saying they're for Republicans," Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said Tuesday at a gathering of conservative bloggers and online activists, "they're saying they're against big government and this is not necessarily going to be a windfall for Republicans."
As bipartisan negotiations over a health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee appear to be reaching a conclusion, Perkins said it would be a "disaster" for congressional Republicans to give their support to "anything that has any element of the public [health insurance] option."
And Perkins rejected the notion that the growing outpouring of concerns expressed by conservatives – during the recent August congressional recess and during last Saturday's event in Washington – had been contrived by groups like his.
"I don't think it's something that can be directed or controlled. This is not the work of organizations. I think organizations can fan it and channel it but they can't build it and direct it. I think this is coming genuinely - this is not astroturf. This is coming from the soil of America."
The Value Voters Summit, an annual Washington gathering of social conservatives put on by the lobbying arm of Perkins' group, is set for September 18-20. Carrie Prejean, a former beauty pageant winner who became embroiled in controversy after she supported traditional marriage, is set to join a number of other prominent conservatives at the event.
"She was just unmercifully attacked," Perkins said of the former beauty queen in a separate interview with CNN. Perkins added that his group is going to "stand up" for anyone in Prejean's position "and we're going to give them a platform."
Perkins also told CNN that "there's a natural overlap" between social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives. "Americans don't draw the lines . . . like we do in Washington." Perkins estimated that 9 out of every 10 social conservatives are also fiscal conservatives.