Values Voter Summit Opens Amid Intense '08 Election Race

WASHINGTON – The annual Values Voter Summit is expected to draw thousands of concerned Americans from across the country to hear some of the nation's foremost experts from the fields of politics, media, entertainment, and Christian ministry discuss values they think should influence voters' candidate choice.

Hosted by the social conservative group Family Research Council, the three-day summit – which begins Friday, less than two months before the presidential election – will feature prominent and diverse figures including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, CNN's Lou Dobbs, NFL Coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, actor and evangelist Stephen Baldwin, and possibly presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama (both were invited and have yet to confirm).

Organizers say they seek to energize voter participation in the political process by educating and equipping Americans to change the nation's policies on issues such as the sanctity of life and marriage, immigration reform, religious freedom, health care, radical Islam, and judicial activism, among others.

But perhaps the reason why the summit is so highly anticipated is because it offers a prediction of how evangelicals will vote in the November election. Many of the attendees of the Summit are evangelicals.

Last year, the Summit's straw poll result found former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as the favorite among values voters. But more surprising was the finding that then little known underdog Mike Huckabee - the former Arkansas governor and a Baptist preacher – came in second by a thin margin.

As predicted by the Summit straw poll, Huckabee went on to win several primaries carried by the strong support of evangelical voters.

The Values Voter Summit is being held Sept. 12-14 in Washington, D.C.