WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Values Voter Summit's 2012 presidential straw poll Saturday, grabbing nearly 29 percent of the vote in a crowded field.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence each won roughly 12 percent of the 597 votes cast.
Four of the top five candidates addressed religious conservatives at the three-day Values Voter conference in Washington this week - the kind of attendance seen as a significant gesture by activists here, especially in an off-election year. Palin did not make an appearance.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which hosted the conference, said Saturday that Huckabee had "potential," but stressed that the former governor's strong showing wouldn't translate into automatic support from the FRC's political action committee. "We want a fully-rounded conservative candidate," he said. "Right now, the door's wide open."
Mitt Romney's remarks here this week touched on social issues, but focused on economic and security policy. By contrast, Huckabee's speech dismissed calls for social and religious conservatives to move toward the center. "I'm not sure the center makes a whole lot of sense when it's coming from people who certainly don't have our interest, or our country's interest, at heart," he said.
The former Baptist minister nabbed a surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses last year, largely on the strength of grassroots support from religious conservative voters.
In his summit speech earlier Saturday, Romney stressed his unbroken string of conference appearances. Romney - a Mormon who has long made an effort to connect with evangelical voters - had nabbed victories in several similar recent measures of conservative presidential preference, including the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll earlier this year, and the last Values Voter Summit contest, held in 2007. He narrowly defeated Huckabee that year in a vote that was open to voters who cast their ballots over the Web. This year's vote was limited to conference attendees.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum were the other candidates on the straw poll ballot. All grabbed single-digit shares of the vote.
The FRC said Saturday that they believed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of their 16 top congressional targets for 2010, was looking increasingly vulnerable. Other names on the list are Tom Perriello, Steve Driehaus, Glenn Nye, Betsy Markey, Walt Minnick, Parker Griffith, Alice Titus, Mary-Jo Kilroy, Ann Kirkpatrick, John Boccieri, and John Murtha in House races, and Robin Carnahan, Michael Bennet, Paul Hodes, Christopher Dodd and Harry Reid on the Senate side, all Democrats.
Follow Rebecca Sinderbrand on Twitter: @sinderbrandrcnn
After seeing the conservative values for the last 15 years, you can take those values and shove them where the sun don't shine, just don't EVER preach values to me.
For a group which claims to follow Jesus.....what a bunch.....sarcasm....denegration of each other....focus on the money.....and a political agenda that Jesus would have no part of. I hate to tell people I'm a Christian....not because I am ashamed of Jesus...but becase the far right is so very much unlike Jesus...and I am ashamed of them.
We were told Sarah Palin only seeks the spotlight. By not showing up, she proves her attackers wrong. She is going to Hong Kong to give a speech, but it is a private meeting. You would think if she is only interested in being in the Klieg Lights, she would want the speech open to the media.
Okay Demcratic Senators and Representatives: I hope you are paying attention. Stop your petty bickering and pass healthcare or this pack of knuckle dragging idiots will be in charge again. After what happened last time I don't know if we will survive so get your butts in gear.
"Values" voters????...let's hear them support the value of every life that is not covered by a health care plan like the rest of the western world, let's here them call out the people at rallies that shout and carry racist posters and tell people outright lies., let's hear they condemn the endless greed of the corporations, and let's hear them cry out at the outrage of there being homeless children and long lines at food banks in a country that claims to be the richest country in the world.
Then MAYBE they can call themselves "Values Voters" and insinuate the rest of us don't have any!!
Why is this a surprise? The Republicans have become a theocratic party, basing their preference for candidates on nothing but their religious beliefs. That's the only reason Sarah Palin got as far as she did, and the only reason Bush Jr. won the primary. If they looked at Huckabee's economic record, they'd faint, because he has one of the worst economic records of any elected official anywhere. His knowledge of foreign policy is nil. But Romney is a Mormon, and there's no way the Christian Evangelicals who have a chokehold on the GOP will ever accept him. So I'm not surprised at all that they're going for Huckabee, even though his only qualification is being a Baptist Minister. Today's Republicans look no further than that.
Obama will crush any of these dweebs in the 2012 election. Bring 'em on.
Christian conservatives are certainly big on divisive language. They refer to themselves as "values voters" and suggest those who disagree with them "don't have ... our country's interest at heart". Everything drives towards establishing the idea that disagreement is immoral and unpatriotic.
The Republican Party is in tatters – thanks, "W"!!!
Isn't the current governor of Arkansas the one who wants to murder any woman who didn't let one of her 500 menstrual cycles turn into a baby? He also wants to murder any doctors who help women with their reproductive health. (Or is it one of their other elected officials...)
And doesn't Arkansas have some of the lowest rates of literacy and high school graduates and health care coverage, along with some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and unemployment? Plus there's that creationist museum with exhibits where humans are riding on dinosaurs. You know, since the world is only 6000 years old. (!?!)
Yeah, evolution-denying people from Arkansas politics are who I want running the country. Those evangelical Arkansans REALLY represent the rest the country and our best interests for a positive future for everyone..... (yeah, everyone who is a heterosexual white dogmatic antihistoric christian)
In your redneck dreams. Ha hja ha ha ha ha ha ha
What i do not understand is the whole "value voter" thing? These people seem to me as being morally bankrupt. They hate anyone that is different them them. They will not even consider or tolerate any different ideas. The are self righteous and mean. I doubt anyone of them would help another even if they were on fire. Now i saw that Carrie poor looser at miss USA say how disgusted she was with all the intolerance. Question of the day... Is it hypocritical to not tolerate the intolerant? The way i saw what she said was that she is mad that people are frowning on her hatred and judgmental ways. She of course can disagree with homosexual marriage. That is her right and her answer was NOT why she lost. Like i said, what values, i am my brother keeper. I try to judge not, for i will be judged. God made and LOVES all people, not just the Christian extremist right GOP. God did not choose the GOP>
huckabee, the most socially conservative republican i can think of, is selected by a convention of social conservatives is news?
i'm a social liberal before all else so let's get that bias out there. however, i find it laughable that the Rs think they're the natural beneficiary of a failed D administration.
one, that's an awful outcome considering the current state of things. it's also awful considering their role in getting us to where we are. if the Ds fail, they'll be kicked to the curb with Rs and we'll see our first independent.
we had our day with GWB's conservative social agenda and it did nothing but distract and divide us.
Here is a man who wants to change the Constitution to fit the Bible!
What are Republicans doing? They like a woman who is anti science and who knows nothing of the world, a guy who is a preacher, and who knows who else?
I am sure that most intelligent Republicans are cringing as they read these polls!
It's a good thing so-called "Values voters" preferences are indicative of the country as a whole, because they are apparently idiots.
Who cares? We don't need more right wing nut jobs in high places who will continue to deny Americans the health care we deserve.
GOP can never win with Huckabee anywhere near it. He is the leader of the Christian Taliban!!! Get rid of him!
The party of the Klan. How can they have a meeting and have no shame at how their room looks. NO African American, No Hispanics, Not to many women and hardly any young people. Stay out in the wilderness ReKlans men, that's where you and your old racist ways belong.
big deal, people want to vote for someone that almost completey bankrupted the State of Arkansas while the economy was going strong. Shows the intelligence level of the GOP.
OMG.. please don't start up with stories about the next presidential race.. give it a rest.... ENOUGH already
Huckabee is an idiot.
If he would have dropped out earlier we would have had Romney instead of McCain.
Stay out of the race Huckabee. Do your talk show and stay out the presidential run. We cant afford to have idiot Obama for 8 years.
Values? really? I'm about to vomit
"A fully rounded" religious conservative??? I guess that must mean one of the fat ones! If the US voters want to mix religion in with politics, look no further than the perfect model of theocracy, Iran. Huckabee in Farsi translates to "Ahmadinejad", and I believe Romney translates to "Camel boy".
Palin, Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, Jindal, Paul, and Santorum..........right now I'd take any of these folks over what we have now.