WASHINGTON – Political-minded values voters from across the nation joined conservative lawmakers Friday to vent about the current state of the country and to coordinate efforts to challenge what they believe are dangerous or immoral policies.
As expected, health care reform dominated the opening day of the Values Voter Summit, which was organized by Family Research Council Action and co-sponsored by Focus on the Family Action.
But besides health care, speakers also addressed issues such as President Obama's green jobs czar, the ACORN scandal, the Wall Street bailout, the new White House position on Israeli settlements, and the national deficit, among other topics.
Though heavy on politics, the crowd of about 1,800 social conservatives clearly relished any mention of the Christian faith to justify their political positions. Every time a politician mentioned Jesus or referenced God, the crowd became fired up, rising to their feet, clapping enthusiastically and whistling.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, sarcastically called President Obama's claim of having created or saved 1 million jobs a miracle. He then went on to talk about abortion, traditional marriage and other values voter issues and linked it to the story of David.
While most people focus on the battle between David and Goliath, the former Baptist preacher said, they often miss the story about David refusing the armor of King Saul. David was brave to tell the king no, he said, tying the biblical account to today's values voters and the liberal-controlled government.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord," said Huckabee, who is predicted to be a contender in the 2012 presidential election.
Following Huckabee's address, three Congressional members took the stage to participate in a health care townhall with the audience. They all denounced the provisions in the health care bills that would allow the government to fund abortions.
The Congressmen and woman also said the debate is really about freedom, warning that the current health reform bills would greatly increase the government's power to make medical decisions for Americans.
"It is really insulting when we hear that Republicans don't have other solutions," said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) during the health care townhall. "We have all sorts of positive solutions."
Bachmann, an evangelical Christian who attended Oral Roberts University, said the government currently gives insurance companies in each state partial-monopoly. Without raising any tax, the government could lift the monopoly and let Americans pool together to buy insurance, she proposed.
The Minnesota representative also supports tort reform, which seeks to lower health care cost by reducing malpractice lawsuits. She pointed to Texas as having implemented a successful tort reform law.
"So 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, survey after survey, say it's working pretty well for me," Bachmann said. "We're going to destroy what 85 percent of what people have to be able to extend government care to an additional 15 percent, of which a large portion can afford to purchase health care but choose not to, are eligible for government programs but choose not to go on them, or are illegal aliens."
"We are going to destroy something that works for 85 percent of people to mandate that another 15 percent have it?" she asked.
The summit organizers urged participants to fill out a card in their registration packet that listed what they don't want in the health care bill and send it to their representatives. Attendees were told they could order more to distribute to others when they return to their respective communities.
The Values Voter Summit will continue Saturday when the result of a much anticipated presidential straw poll will be released. Sessions will conclude Saturday night while the summit will end with a sermon by FRC president Tony Perkins Sunday morning.