Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the presidential poll at a Washington gathering of largely Christian conservatives over the weekend, far outpacing former Republican vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and other potential aspirants to the White House in 2012.
Huckabee took more than 28 percent of the vote in the Value Voters Summit Straw Poll, according to results released by the sponsoring Family Research Council. The next four contenders, each with about 12 percent of the vote, were Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Palin and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. Finishing in single digits were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. All are Republicans.
"[Huckabee] is well-oiled," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Hill. "He came back with a strong message and I don't think he missed a beat from the presidential campaign last year."
Also at the event, the Family Research Council said announced a hit list of 16 congressional Democrats it plans to target in 2010, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania.As a gathering of social conservatives, the Values Voters Summit (the name always makes us wonder: What voter doesn't vote his or her values?) has become an important step on the way to the Republican presidential nomination. Speakers at this year's event included Huckabee, Pence, Pawlenty and Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, actor Stephen Baldwin and Miss Universe contestant Carrie Prejean.
"He speaks with a gravitas, seriousness," Jack Klenk, an audience member from Lorton, Virginia, told Politico's Jonathan Martin. "I was really impressed."