Welcome to PRA’s live-blog of the 2015 Values Voter Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council. For coverage of day 2, click here. Newest updates are at the bottom. Refresh often for updates.
Things are getting read to start. This mornings’ first plenary speakers include Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio.
There’s a delegation of Chinese protesters outside the hotel who are protesting president Xi, who is in town today for a state dinner with president Obama.
Emcee opens with crack about the Chinese ralliers outside, “The only Chinese I know is what’s on the menu.”
Tony Perkins opens with a defense of (the Christian Right’s version of) Religious Freedom. Unfortunately, Mr. Perkins doesn’t seem to understand that Religious Freedom is a protection for all religious and non-religious people.
9:20am John McCain
McCain is keeping things very generic. “We’re on the right side of history” vs. terrorism. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is very important.”
McCain: America has shed the degradation of other countries in favor of American Exceptionalism.
McCain says that nowhere is religious persecution more extreme or more brutal than the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.
McCain get his first ovation for getting into anti-abortion rhetoric. Going against all public polling, he claims that the majority of Americans are beginning to support anti-abortion stance. McCain also gives a shoutout to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recent anti-abortion bill.
The crowd really doesn’t seem to know what to make of McCain. There’s a lot of remaining animosity between him and the Christian Right base. He’s getting cheers when he dips into anti-SRHR rhetoric, but most of his speech is focused on foreign policy and there are a lot of phones being looked at in the audience.
9:45 am Sen. Marco Rubio
Rubio opens with a defense of religion playing a part in politics. Says America was certainly founded as a Christian nation, and that all rights were established not by any men but by God.
Pretty standard stump speech from Rubio thus far. “Country is not on the right track,” “politicians are out of touch,” “we need new leadership,’ etc.
Rubio does, however, get the loudest cheer thus far when he announces that GOP House Speaker Boehner is resigning.
Rubio goes after same-sex marriage, saying that same-sex couples “compete” and “threaten” opposite-sex couples.
Rubio actually acknowledges that unpaid family leave is insufficient and not a viable option for many workers, but says mandating paid family leave will cost employees jobs. Says he wants to offer a tax credit to any employer offering paid family leave.
Rubio gets a big cheer for his “defund Planned Parenthood” line. But he only calls for outlawing abortion after 20 weeks, which drew more than a few gasps from the crowd.
10:15am Gov. Sam Brownback
Brownback opens talking about how it is no accident that “In God We Trust” is the national motto. Actually, that’s only been the national motto (and added on currency and the pledge) in the 1950s.
Brownback goes heavily after social safety nets. Says generational poverty only started once President Johnson started his welfare programs. Says the poor can’t get their dignity back until welfare has ended.
Brownback continues his attacks on low-income families. Says they refuse to work as long as public-assistance programs exist.
10:30am Senator Ted Cruz (intro’d by Rep. Jim Bridenstine)
Bridenstine says it’s because of Cruz that House Speaker Boehner is resigning. “He supported pro-life since he came to the Senate, none of these others did until they were running for president.”
Cruz jokes President Obama is “the world’s most powerful Communist.”
Cruz says his first day in office he’ll rescind Obama’s executive orders, then will direct Department of Justice to investigate/prosecute Planned Parenthood. “Justice should be blind,” says Cruz (except for this once, apparently, when he’ll force prosecution of Planned Parenthood).
Cruz says if elected there would be “no more persecution of Religious Freedom.” Mr. Cruz seems to have the same fundamentally-flawed understanding of Religious Freedom as other speakers. If government officials are allowed to deny services and rights based on religious beliefs, we wonder how he’ll feel about a Muslim clerk denying marriages to Christian couples.
11:00am Ken Klukowski, senior counsel at Liberty Institute and Breitbart contributor
Klukowski says Religious Freedom is not just a freedom to worship. He also says Obergefell v. Hodges is sending Christians to jail.
Klukowski is touting Liberty Institute’s new tools for “protecting businesses’ ” religious liberty. This is actually a reference to a dangerous new right-wing tactic which PRA has dubbed “religify.” See Fred Clarkson’s post here: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/05/29/when-in-doubt-religify-fear…
11:12am Rick Santorum
Santorum says he wasn’t always as anti-abortion as he is today. Says abortion and same-sex marriage is “the destruction of the American family.”
Santorum also adds that, thanks to Center for Medical Progress’ highly edited and manipulated videos, there’s no question Planned Parenthood is breaking the law and performing late-term abortions.
90 percent of Santorum’s speech has been complaining that other GOP presidential candidates haven’t supported Christian Right positions until this year.
Santorum calls for the mass deportation of ALL undocumented workers in the U.S. “I’ll tell them all to go home.”
11:35am Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute
Shackleford describes opponents of the Christian Right’s redefined version of Religious Freedom as advocates of totalitarianism.
Shackelford is touting Liberty Institute court wins. One of the things that makes L.I. so dangerous is how many cases of theirs occur without any public awareness. The establishment of case law when this multi-million dollar organization takes on an under-funded county attorney boosts the likelihood of major right-wing cases like the Hobby Lobby case succeeding.
12:00pm Donald Trump (introduced by Citizens United president Dave Bossy)
Trump opens by showing off his personal bible, and anti-Hillary Clinton jokes.
It’s difficult to live-blog a Trump speech. It’s an incredible mish-mash of thoughts and conversation threads.
HUGE boos for Trump after he calls Marco Rubio a clown, and says Rubio supports amnesty.
Trump says Secretary of State John Kerry has “no right” to negotiate the Iran Deal. Throws in a little Islamophobia, adding “it’ll take them another couple hundred years to figure out that women are smarter than men.”
Strongly recommend reading PRA alumni Chip Berlet’s recent piece: How Corporate Press Fails to Trump Bigotry http://fair.org/home/corporate-press-fails-to-trump-bigotry/.
On immigration, Trump says he will only keep “the right people” here.
Trump turns to O’Reilly’s fake “War on Christmas” to close out. This is how he’s trying to connect with the Christian Right.
12:25pm - 2pm Lunch Break
2pm Plenary Sessions Resume
Dr. Mark Smith, president of Ohio Christian University
Smith is going after the proposal to make community college tuition free for all. Says every time a service is offered for free, “it destroys America.”
Smith says that it’s the Christian faith community, and not government, that responded to Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, ISIS, and others.
Smith is, in essence, calling for a holy war between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.
2:25pm Rick Perry, former Texas governor and former presidential candidate
Perry says Christianity is the only thing standing in the way of total anarchy in the U.S. If church and state are separated, “we won’t be able to hire enough police to keep us safe.”
Perry just compared the Values Voter Summit crowd standing up to President Obama to Martin Luther King, Jr., standing up to Congress.
Perry also spent 2 minutes condemning Obama as a tyrant and a king, saying “America overthrows kings,” but later said that what America really needs right now is a ruler.
Likely directed at Trump, Perry criticizes “divisive and race-based rhetoric” in immigration debate. Says that “demeaning people because of their Hispanic heritage betrays Christ.”
Perry finishes with some martyr references, asks who in the crowd would be willing to die to restore America’s values. “Join me!”
2:45pm Mike Huckabee, former governor and presidential candidate
Huckabee opens with a joke comparing John Kerry and the Iran Deal team to Larry, Moe, and Curly.
Huckabee is also offering a defense of the Keystone XL pipeline. Says U.S. should be the #1 exporter of oil in the world. (Isn’t the KeystoneXL pipeline for Canadian oil?)
Huckabee goes after reproductive rights, says “defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t enough,” wants to completely overturn Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion entirely. Says Roe v. Wade is already unconstitutional because of the 5th Amendment.
3:14pm Ben Carson, presidential candidate
Carson starts out touting things like free public libraries which allowed him to succeed in life.
Carson says anyone is willing to come to America, but they should conform to American values and way of life. He adds that he has been to the border and that anyone who wants to can cross easily (he apparently isn’t familiar with the thousands who die trying every year). And that those coming over the border are Iraqi criminals who are “trying to invade us.”
Carson then tried to clarify his recent “a Muslim can’t be president” comments, but ended up implying that Muslims can’t even really be citizens unless they “conform” to U.S. judeo/christian values.
Carson just said that any elected official who votes to raise the debt ceiling “should be thrown out of office.” He’s apparently unaware that raising the debt ceiling does not mean borrowing new money, it means granting permission to pay what we’ve already borrowed back.
3:35pm Panel Discussion with Tony Perkins, Lila Rose, Roy Costner, and Ryan Bomberger
See our full profile on Lila Rose here: http://www.politicalresearch.org/the-next-generation-of-antichoice-lila…
See our full profile on Ryan Bomberger here: http://www.politicalresearch.org/the-next-generation-of-antichoice-ryan…
Tony Perkins acknowledges how Lila Rose pioneered the tactic of going undercover to health clinics (and then manipulating the video in an attempt to falsely portray illegal activity).
Ryan Bomber is a driver behind the Right’s racist meme that abortion is only something that Black people do.
Roy Costner is being touted as the hero public high school student who defied his school and violated their instructions that he not mention god in his valedictorian speech. What actually happened was that he wanted to give a full evangelical sermon to his classmates (who were required to be there). He wasn’t banned from any mentions of god, but from sermonizing to a captive audience.
Lila Rose says the criticism of her videos and and Center for Medical Progress’ videos is that they’re done while undercover. Actually, they’re criticized and discredited because Rose and CMP edit and manipulate their videos to portray lies.
4:05pm Gov. Bobby Jindal, presidential candidate
Jindal says Republicans should “fold up our tents and start a new party” if the GOP congress doesn’t fully defund Planned Parenthood.
4:25pm Gary Bauer
Bauer talks about how Christians are persecuted around the world.
Bauer says terrorism is on the rise in Europe because they allow Muslim immigration. “Can anyone connect the dots?” he demands to know.
Every year, Bauer’s Islamophobia gets worse. See 2014: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/09/26/live-blog-values-voters-sum… and 2013: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/10/11/values-voters-summit-2013-l….
Gary Bauer concludes his speech about how the U.S. military should forcibly impose its values on Middle Eastern countries by saying that Muslims want to start a second holocaust.
4:45pm David Daleiden
Want to know the truth behind David Daleiden & Center for Medical Progress? Via PRA senior fellow Fred Clarkson: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/07/28/catholic-democrats-the-grou…
Daleiden is frequently using the phrase “harvest and sells baby parts.” Absolutely zero mention that Planned Parenthood does not “sell” anything, and are only reimbursed transportation costs for tissues that mothers choose to donate for medical research. This is the problem with propaganda being accepted as “investigative journalism.” See more here: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/08/10/when-anti-abortion-propagan…
5:10pm The Benham Brothers
For background, the Benham twins’ claim to fame is the free market rejecting their tv show after they said LGBTQ people are demonic.
The Benhams are taking historical revisionism to new heights as they claim it is the pro-choice movement that is known for being violent and giving death threats. They also claim that no other religions except for Christianity are persecuted in the U.S. “it just seems to be a problem with Christianity.”
5:35pm Dinner Break - we’ll be back with live coverage at 7:15pmEST.
7:41pm Back from dinner break!
Fmr Lt. Col. Ollie North
North has listed three things as “the greatest threats to our military since WWII:” #LGBT people in the military, & women in combat. He adds that combat is too awful to subject women to.
On Chattanooga shooting: “These are not extremists or criminals, Mr. Obama, these are radical Islamists.”
Listening to North, one would think that the U.S. military (the largest and most powerful fighting force in the world) now only consists of one guy with a slingshot.
Like other speakers today, North seems oblivious to the true meaning of Religious Freedom. He points to a photo of some soldiers praying before a mission, and claims they’ll likely be attacked for that soon. No, sir, what would be wrong would be their commanding officer demanding that the soldiers in his unit pray. Your beliefs are your own.
8:05pm Rep. Louie Gohmert
So far, Gohmert is mostly discussing the Iran Deal. There are a lot of shouts from the audience of “treason” and “impeach him” about President Obama.
Rep Gohmert is intensely dull tonight. Odd for him at a Christian Right event. He’s mostly just Boehner-bashing.
Gohmert quotes from Romans, says it means that illegal immigrants “must be punished.” Adds, “we cannot afford to continue taking in immigrants.”
8:27pm Presentation of award to Kim Davis
Staver begins with attack on SCOTUS for its ruling on same-sex marriage. Says it was inevitable for their to be a clash with religious freedom. Staver is just the latest to complete misunderstand the meaning of religious freedom, which applies equally to all beliefs and non-beliefs. True religious freedom means that your beliefs cannot be forced onto others, and neither the government or others can force beliefs on you.
Kim Davis now on stage, gets an extended standing ovation from the crowd.
Perkins presents the award plaque. Says Kim Davis has shown absolute integrity (by denying the lawful civil rights of others).
Kim Davis thanks Jesus, then shouts “I am only one, but we are many!” and leaving the stage.