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Values Voter Summit, Part Three – Star(s) On the Rise

“I know which candidates I’m not for – and you’ll hear from them tomorrow,” said conservative activist Star Parker during her speech on Friday night to those gathered for the thirteenth hour of the Values Voter Summit (which had begun just before 9 am earlier in the day).

People didn’t quite know how to react, seeing as Parker was clearly referring to Ron Paul and Mitt Romney (the two presidential candidates speaking on Saturday) – and who knows how many Paul followers would’ve been there for a session that featured only Michele Bachmann as a presidential candidate on the schedule. Needless to say, there probably wouldn’t be many Romney supporters at the Summit, period.

And it’s a good thing that Parker is such a passionate and dynamic speaker, because it’d been a long day. A great day, but even hearing from some of the best in the conservative movement can get tedious at times.

Parker was the only speaker of the evening who didn’t go long in her address, but the meeting’s attendees didn’t seem to mind – they’d just heard four magnificent speeches to conclude Friday’s line-up, starting with Bachmann, who delivered a somewhat uneven but stirring-at-times presentation.

The night’s arguably best speech was by the one guy who some attendees might have never heard of – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a leader who’s extremely well known to conservatives in the Capitol region, but not quite as familiar to the masses across the fruited plain.

Cuccinelli focused almost exclusively on the states’ constitutional duty to keep the federal government in check, a subject that is very much on everyone’s minds these days. Add the fact that Cuccinelli is able to put somewhat technical and abstract legal concepts into language that everyone can understand, throw in some humor, and you’ve got a real star on the rise.

But for a conservative movement that could not have been lower after Barack Obama was elected nearly three years ago, Friday’s Values Voter Summit speaker line-up had to be a real boost of energy. Not only does it appear that there are some good “choices” for president this year, but also the future looks bright with folks like Cuccinelli waiting to assume leadership roles in the GOP and in America.

Bachmann overdrive, or just windy?

The Friday evening session started late, probably because the afternoon session had run a full half hour long – and Michele Bachmann’s lengthy talk didn’t help getting things back on track.

Bachmann, wearing an attractive red dress, clearly felt among her element with the Values Voters – after all, socially conservative Evangelicals are her core constituency. She began with a discussion of her personal life, reiterating that she’d been married over 30 years and had raised over two dozen children (including foster kids, of course).

Bachmann referenced John Adams and the Founding Fathers in arguing that America faces a crisis that could potentially bring down the country, and this generation of leaders needs to be willing to “sacrifice” in a similar way in order to meet the challenge. Bachmann emphasized – over and over – how ready she is to lead the country through its travails. Generally, the audience loved it.

As probably would be expected, Bachmann was the first presidential candidate to really push her role with the Tea Party, emphasizing that “we’re fighting back with a movement that is demanding nothing less than a full-scale repeal of Obamacare.”

She also promised to bring in more help in Congress to help do the heavy lifting. “As president, I would not rest until we elect 13 more titanium-spined U.S. Senators – don’t think we can’t do it.”

The first half of her speech seemed to drag a bit, and her applause lines didn’t really generate a whole lot of crowd reaction – maybe people were just tired. Bachmann herself looked fatigued, and I wondered if maybe the rigors of a campaign and her recent dip in the polls is taking its toll on the normally hyper-enthusiastic politician.

The latter half made up for it, especially when she started talking about energy (no pun intended). “We must legalize American energy production – this is our key to prosperity.” That seemed to get people going, and the rest of her talk generated several standing ovations and a few smiles from Bachmann. There’s no doubt that she loves the attention.

Bachmann finished up with an allusion to Ronald Reagan’s “Time for Choosing” speech, arguing that now is such a time, and that conservatives do not need to settle for nominating a moderate – a point that this audience really appeared to believe and appreciate.

Bachmann’s right – there is no need for conservatives to “settle” in 2012. Obama is vulnerable in a good many states that he needed to carry in 2008 to win the election, so there’s a tangible sense of difference this time around. Bachmann says Obama will be defeated – and any of the Republicans would at least have a solid chance against him.

One thing in conclusion – Bachmann said the Values Voter Straw Poll could send a message to Obama, and was obviously asking/begging for support. Could she see this as the only way to jumpstart a lagging campaign?

Cuccinelli’s Constitution

“The American people haven’t gotten soft, but our politicians’ commitment to the Constitution has gotten soft,” said Ken Cuccinelli in beginning his speech.

As alluded to earlier, Cuccinelli was highly successful in outlining the true issues in this country, namely a federal government that’s grown so large and dominant that it ignores its own Constitution (see The Law That Governs Government, by Viguerie and Fitzgibbons), a crisis that is being met by Cuccinelli and other Attorneys General in the states.

Cuccinelli correctly pointed out that the Founding Fathers intended for the states to be a check on federal power, and that the Attorneys General are the “last line of defense” against the leviathan that has become the federal government.

Cuccinelli outlined Virginia’s role in combating Obamacare, noting that they “waited about 15 minutes” to file suit against the federal healthcare takeover after it was signed into law (which Cuccinelli also noted came 235 years to the day after Patrick Henry’s ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ speech in Richmond).

The main point of Cuccinelli’s address was the absolute need for ALL citizens to “push back” against the federal government – not only those in elected positions, but also the citizenry. “The people who are hurt first and worst by this kind of regulatory onslaught are the poor.”

He implored people to get off the couch and get involved, and there’s never been a more important time to push back against the feds.

Well done, Ken.

“It’s the culture, stupid.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal followed Cuccinelli and presented his case that America’s problems are largely caused by a sickening of its culture -- and who could really disagree.

“So goes America's culture, so goes unemployment, debt, bailouts, etc. All are byproducts of larger cultural concerns,” Jindal argued, relaying several personal stories about how technology has changed our world, making someone’s moral fiber all the more important – especially when it comes to protecting children.

The country’s still getting to know Jindal, having really only seen him when he delivered kind of a dud of a SOTU response speech a couple years ago. This time, Jindal was lively – and funny – and it’s now easier to imagine him in a national leadership role in the future.

Besides, seeing a man of Indian descent speaking with a southern drawl is unique and interesting. America truly is a great place. If a conservative ethnic minority like Jindal can get elected in a place like Louisiana (add Nikki Haley in South Carolina), then the Left’s claims of racism are all the more preposterous.

“We all must take responsibility for the health of our culture in America,” he argued.

“If Americans cease to be good, America will cease to be great,” Jindal said – and he’s right.

Star hits it out of the park

Having heard Star Parker speak live in the past, I knew she’s about as good on the stump as anyone around. She didn’t disappoint.

Parker truly speaks from the heart – without notes, and without the help of a teleprompter. She’s naturally gifted, and her wealth of personal experience with the ills of Big Government provide her with immense credibility.

Coming off a failed run for Congress, Parker said it would take time for conservative values to infiltrate the black community (in case you didn’t know, Parker is black). “The answer to poverty is freedom and personal responsibility, not government dependency.”

She also echoed Jindal’s earlier comments, by decrying the culture: “We cannot continue as a country, as a great nation, if we don’t bring our culture in check… Are we going to be a country that understands that our values come from God and his scripture? Or are we going to be secular and socialist?”

Parker concluded with an urgent plea for conservatives to get involved. “We need to wake up next November and be able to say – I did everything I could do to stop the Left.”

Too true.

One gets the impression that Parker could go on for hours, but she was also very effective in making the point in her twenty-minute speech. She showed it could be done.

And that ended Friday night’s session of the Values Voter Summit.

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