Values Voters Flock to D.C. With 2012 in Mind

Nearly 2,000 social conservatives from across America are flocking to the nation's capital for this year's Values Voter Summit.

From Friday until Sunday, participants of the fourth annual summit will hear from dozens of speakers including a number of lawmakers, theologians, media personalities, and other promoters and defenders of faith, family, and freedom.

Also speaking will be several presidential hopefuls who are already garnering support less than a year after the nation elected Barack Obama as its 44th president.

"The 2012 presidential primaries may be several years away but many value voters are already surveying the field of possible candidates," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, which has been hosting the summit since 2006.

Co-sponsors of the summit include the American Family Association, Focus on the Family Action, American Values, and the Heritage Foundation.

As in past years, this weekend's Values Voter Summit will 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.

Organizers of the event will also hold one of the first major presidential straw poll events of the 2012 election cycle with nine possible presidential candidates – namely Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was originally included on Presidential Straw Poll ballot but was removed upon request from his staff.

A spokesman for Perry's re-election campaign told CNN that the request was made because the two-term governor is not thinking about running for president, but is instead "focused on running for governor." Perry is currently battling Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for the GOP nomination.

Despite the removal of his name from ballot, Perry is still scheduled to speak during an afternoon plenary session Saturday.

Other speakers include: Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), John Boehner (R-Ohio), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); media personalities Bill O'Reilly and Bill Bennett; theologians Ergun Caner and Russell Moore; celebrities Stephen Baldwin and Carrie Prejean; authors Joel Rosenberg and Star Parker; and activists Lila Rose, Burke Balch, and Phyllis Schlafly, who will be honored Saturday evening with the third annual James C. Dobson Vision and Leadership Award.

The summit, which concludes Sunday with a morning worship service, is being held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.