GOP 2012 candidate straw poll event draws out anti-Obama, anti-establishment sentiment

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

The Family Research Council boasted an all-star conservative lineup Friday morning at its 2010 Value Voters Summit in Washington with big-name potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

Each speaker took their shots at President Barack Obama’s “Recovery Summer,” calling out statistics showing it failed. They pushed for keeping the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy for treatment of gay soldiers and for banning abortions and gay marriage.

Bachmann attacked Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – but said she understands why Americans would have voted for Obama in 2008.

“In 2008, I think it’s important to know people voted for values, because people saw Barack Obama as a new chance, a new way, a new opportunity and it is the beauty of our American republic that their voices were heard,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann then drilled the Obama administration for the government takeover of health care and the automobile industry – and said that’s not what the American people want.

“It’s also the beauty of the American republic that, in record time, the American people have completely rejected the government they thought they were going to get.”

As for what’s going to happen this November, Bachmann said it’s pretty clear. She’s certain the House will be back in conservative control after the midterm elections.

“And, Harry Reid, well, we may not have to worry about Harry Reid much longer,” Bachmann said, referencing Nevada’s Tea Party Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle.

In his speech, Pence speech attacked the Obama administration on several fronts – he said that Obama’s Healthcare Reform must be repealed, that 9/11 terrorists should be tried in a Guantanamo Bay military court not a civilian court and that the government should cut off all funding to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations.

“House Republicans will not rest until we repeal Obamacare, lock, stock and barrel,” Pence said.

The Indiana congressman lashed out at Obama over how he’s handled issues in Israel.

“The recent criticism of Israel over construction in Jerusalem and acts of self-defense is appalling,” Pence said. “Let the world know this if it knows nothing else: America stands with Israel.”

Romney spoke mostly about the government intervention into the private sector, focusing on fiscal conservatism – drawing comparisons between the founders of iconic businesses and the founders of the United States.

“I’ve found that it’s not just businesses that are shaped by their founders,” Romney said. “It’s also true of countries.”

NEXT: Huckabee looks toward ‘Recovery Fall’

Huckabee, the first speaker of the day to take the stage, urged voters to return to socially conservative values in order to find the fiscal conservatism he said the nation needs to have. That overarching theme, a tie between social and fiscal conservatism, dominated other potential GOP candidates’ speeches – with each speaker focusing on pro-life and pro-family sentiments.

“Well, we have somehow, amazingly, survived Barack Obama’s ‘Recovery Summer,’” Huckabee said. “But, I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to, it’s not this ‘Recovery Summer.’ It’s our Recovery Fall when we take back both the House and the Senate.”

DeMint addressed the fire he’s been taking recently in Washington for his widespread support for non-establishment Tea Party candidates nationwide.

“It’s been a really rough week here in Washington,” DeMint said. “Some of our establishment friends are not real happy with me or you.”

DeMint, who has said publicly before there’s no way he’s running for president in 2012 and reinforced that statement with reporters after his speech, adding that he’s focused on the Tea Party candidates for Senate seats this year.

“This is no longer voting for the least worst on the ballot – we’ve finally got some candidates we can be proud of,” DeMint said.

DeMint, who said he thinks it isn’t possible for a person to be fiscally conservative and not socially conservative and that he thinks fiscal conservatism is rooted in values, told the audience government has to return to its religion-based values, but must do so carefully.

“None of us want the government to push religion – I don’t want that – they’d mess that up too,” DeMint said.

Huckabee aimed much of his speech at the upcoming midterm elections as well, pointing out the check Congress has on the president.

“It [this election year] can provide the backstop so that, even if the president wishes to inflict upon us an extreme left agenda, that we have a backstop in Congress, hopefully both in the House and the Senate, and I’m very optimistic of that,” Huckabee said.