Interesting discussions are afoot at the Values Voter Summit being held right now by Family Research Council Action in Washington, DC.  During the course of the next two days, those with shared values revolving around the family will hear from every Republican candidate for the presidency.  At the end of this weekend, these 2000 + attendees will participate in a straw poll.  Results should be interesting considering the lack of unity among movement leaders about who should the nominee should be.   

While many state and local leaders in our movement appear to personally prefer Mike Huckabee, they are unsure if anything can move him to the “top tier” of candidates.  Meanwhile, some of the national leaders seem concerned that Huckabee lacks the knowledge and skill on national security and immigration issues to be equipped for the job.  This has led to some support for Fred Thompson as the only consistent candidate, but they stand without a lot of enthusiasm.  Some are standing behind Mitt Romney, but fear the flip-flopping of the past will haunt his efforts.  The elephant in the room continues to be Romney’s Morman faith—quiet mutters indicate that social conservative leaders do not really know the percentage of voters who will be unwilling to elect a Morman.  There are even rumors of a bit of a McCain comeback among some conservatives.

 And then there is the Guilliani concern, which dominates strategy from many angles.  Leaders appear to be fairly unified on a “not Guilliani” game plan but differ on their assessment of the impact should that nomination take place.  While a few may hold the “lesser of two evils” philosophy -- that Gulliani will be better than Hillary -- others fear the long-term statement made if conservatives ultimately fall in line and pull the trigger for him.  Given this would be the first time an openly pro-abortion candidate has been the GOPs nominee, does this send the signal that the race can be won without those that hold value views?  Would this reshape the GOP and primaries forever more?  Further party reshaping could occur if Republicans, knowing Guilliani’s position on abortion and gay rights, feel compelled to fall in line behind “their” president.   These concerns have driven a previously unthinkable discussion about a third party candidate.  Would conservatives really back a third party with any kind of seriousness?  Is this simply a gift to the left?  Would that nullify all of the credibility built over the years by this group? 

Let me know what you think about this crucial election cycle…

Also, if you want to watch the Summit, the American Family Association has a live webcase here: www.afa.net/twb2007/index.html