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
Obama will be weak in 2012 because his polocies are reckless. Palin showed us that the country won't tolerate the right wing social conservatives running things. If the republicians want Obama to win in 2012 they should nominate that goober Huckabee. If the republicians want to win in 2012 they need a moderate o run against the leftest radical Obama.
Can't wait to see who Huckabee appoints Flat Earth Czar.
V V S = Vile Violent Scary.............all the repugnants are
We need someone NEW!
Hope it is Huckabee......once he starts opening his mouth and spews all that zealous religious rhetoric and hate...there will be no contest. Obama 2012!
F R C= Failed Racist Cowards.....those CONServatives
The return of the 17Th century
If huckabee shows even and inkling of support in 2012 you can kiss the gop goodbye for 4 more years.
I really like Huckabee. During the debates, he made the most sense out of all the 'publicans, him and Ron Paul. He'd make a great match against Obama (if he has a decent running mate (please not Palin). This is going to be a great big toss up in 2012 (if we make it!).
(cnn: I wrote something good about Ron Paul, so let's see if you post this since you all were part of the media that liked to hurry him through his answers and pan away from him to Romney and McCain)
It is funny how destructively divided the Republican Party is, they won't be winning any elections anytime soon. They'll keep losing like they did the last three elections, America is tired of Conservatives.
You know, this story might be the final straw that makes me stop visiting cnn.com for "news." It's 2009. The next presidential election is in more than three years. And yet you're talking about it as if it's tomorrow.
Oh, and by the way, 597 people at a "Values Voter Summit" should not be seen by anyone as "significant"–I don't care what year it is.
my fellow liberals.......they already started and will finish soon as well......what is their solution to the problems we face or have been facing for 8 years??......they offer ZERO...but score points with those CONServatives who cannot even think for themselves.....bunch of sorry suits
The reason he won is because HE HAS VALUES. Many of the others are full of feathers for the lack of a better word. Not one of them has the conscience nor the integrity to do the right thing and that is to help get this health care bill passed for the PEOPLE not Obama. The people want it and I have visited some of the republican offices and have seen their bill and it is not too different where they could get together and make it perfect or at least better. I asked Tom Price's office why can't they get together with the president as he seems to want many of the same things and I was told they don't like the wording in his bill. The wording, I said...that can be adjusted so you won't agree to get together because of the wording...how ridiculous. Bottom line, they want Obama to fail and it is so obvious. The only person with integrity is Olivia Snow who has been working tirelessly as she understands it is more important to help the people than the party. When it passes, and it will pass...I hope the names of these people will stay with you. YOU are not their priority....their own self image is the priority. They are also in the pocket of the insurance companies who have made 400% profits in the last two years. How much profit did you get on your accounts? We are fools if we let this opportunity pass.
Huckabee and Romney!!!? What year is it anyway!!!?
Not a surprise ... I hope he clinches the Republican nomination. He would lose to Obama, big time.
"Values" voters are killing the Republican party. There's no way Huckabee will win the nomination, much less a general election.
So if one is not a part of this group does it mean they have no values? Or, are of no value? Any group could meet in a room and cast ballots for any mumber of names. That wouldn't make it in any way significant.
What – an Evangelical wins a straw poll at a conservative Christian conference? Color me shocked! (The FRC is anti-Mormon, so it's no surprise that they wouldn't support Romney.)
Huckabee putting a beatdown on Mitten. You got to love it. I mean Mitten spending his own money actually talking economic policies then ol' Huck spouts some redneck theology, acts about as dumb as his tag along Chuckie Norris. The votes comes in and like always dumb ol' Huck puts a major beat down on Mitten. Reminds you of the old Burt Reynolds movie where those intelligent well versed city boys while canoeing got introduced to those hillbillies.
What is a "values" voter?
More than likely a hypocrite. The republicans and their code words
crack me up. And why do they always seem to need them? To cover up their 'real' meanings?
Praise the Lord! Huckabee's a "dead duck". Mitt, save your bucks. Wait until 2016 and see if the GOP every loses these goons.
Many are worried about government run health care? Watch out for mandatory sign up for government run religion.
Does anyone else feel looked down on when references like Huckabilly's "Values Voters" are made? Who are non-value voters, voters who hold no values? Do value voters value the strident, baldfaced lies on Fixit news????