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At the Values Voter Summit, Wing-Nut Christian Right Plots Its Comeback

Religious conservatives, safely out of the public eye, let loose a string of shocking diatribes at the Values Voter Summit.

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This could be a tax problem for the groups that sponsored the event. The FRC, the Heritage Foundation, American Values and the American Family Association are all tax-exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. As such, they are legally prohibited from intervening in partisan politics. (Heritage, a well-funded group known mainly for advocating limited government and low taxes, was making its first foray as a sponsor of the summit.)

One event cosponsor, FRC Action, is a 501(c)(4) group. Under federal tax law, such organizations may be more political, but partisan politics is not to be their primary aim.

Yet it seemed obvious that the entire confab was designed to get more Republicans into office in 2010 -- as one event especially made clear.

Summit attendees were invited to attend a Friday evening reception hosted by FRC Action PAC at a cost of $100 per person. PAC President Connie Mackey briefed attendees on the upcoming activities of the political action committee, which was created last year.

"We will pray a lot," Mackey said, "but if we don't change the numbers on Capitol Hill, and if we don't change the numbers in the state legislatures around the country, the Democrats are going to continue to do, to overtake us all with government." (Americans United obtained a recording of comments at the reception.)

This year, FRC activists have also created the Virginia Values Voter Political Action Committee, a special PAC for Virginia's closely watched elections. The move is significant, because campaign laws in that state are very loose. Both individuals and businesses can contribute to it and can apparently make unlimited donations.

Mackey said the PAC hopes to raise $60,000 to run radio ads against Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds in southern Virginia, attacking him over abortion and same-sex marriage. They're also targeting seven legislative seats. (Among the speakers at the reception were Ken Cuccinelli, GOP candidate for state attorney general, and Delegate Bob Marshall.)

Speaking of Virginia, Mackey said, "The Democrats, if we lose it, it will be such a trophy for them. And so we're doing everything we can."

Speakers during the general summit sessions echoed this partisan talk. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, predicted GOP victories in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey this year and said "the voters will speak in 2010."

Obama, Romney asserted, has already failed.

"He can spin a speech, but he can't spin his record," Romney told the crowd. "I'll bet you never thought you'd look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days." (For good measure, Romney endorsed "intensive interrogation" techniques -- a euphemism for torture.)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacked Obama on health care, taxes and other issues. He also toed the line of an assault on American values.

"Those values are under attack," Pawlenty said. "These are not just conservative values. Our values are American values … Our Judeo-Christian values are important, they are traditional, and they are the basis for so much of our country."

Pawlenty urged the crowd to fight even harder.

"Keep the faith and have heart, because remember, God is the God of all," he said. "He's the God of the White House, of the Congress, of state capitols, of school board meetings, city council meetings, all of it. So our job as value voters and concerned citizens is to get up each day, to be faithful, to work hard, and our job is to put in our best effort, and God owns the result, so do not lose heart."