Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul may have handily won this weekend's Values Voter Summit straw poll over businessman Herman Cain in Washington DC, but that didn't stop the head of the Family Research Council (FRC) from dismissing the victory as not representing the sentiments of social conservatives.
"I don't think Ron Paul is truly reflective of where values voters stand," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, on CNN's "American Morning on Monday."
Without getting into specifics of the congressman's policy stances, Perkins went on to downgrade Paul's recent victory as one that had been organized specifically by his campaign who "bussed in over 600 people not to attend the conference but to hear his speech and vote."
According to Perkins, the Paul campaign had tried to buy blocks of tickets to the open invitation event and were refused. Despite the restriction, he admitted that individual Paul supporters suceeded in buying tickets for themselves and still managed a strong showing. The event this past weekend saw about 3,000 attendees. Only 1,983 voted in the poll.
While Perkins singled Paul out as incompatible with social conservatives, The Hill's coverage shows that Perkins steered clear of criticizing other GOP presidential frontrunners like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and businessman Herman Cain. Noting that there were differences between evangelicals and Mormons, he said that it wasn't the focus of the Values Voter Summit or the Family Research Council to delineate those differences. Drawing a small chuckle at one point from the CNN host in his on air interview for seemingly giving more credence to Cain's straw poll finish at 23% than to Paul's victory at 37%, Perkins believed that "there's something to be said about [Mr. Cain's] results in the straw poll."
Paul has been questioned about his stance on legalizing marijauna, cocaine, and prostitution thanks to the topic being raised this past May at a Fox News presidential debate. In a question posed to him on the subject by Chris Wallace, Paul said that he believes he can draw social conservative support based on his defense of personal liberty- namely, that protecting religious and non-religious freedoms go hand in hand with defending freedom as a whole.
On abortion, one issue certainly at the core of the social conservative camp, Paul has come out on the side of the anti-abortion crowd. He's signed the Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Leadership Pledge. The document drafted by the anti-abortion group includes promises to permanently strip all taxpayer funds for abortions in domestic and international spending programs, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to appoint "pro-life appointees" to relevant presidential cabinet positions. Among other anti-abortion measures, the document also includes the promise to appoint judges committed to not legislating from the bench. And like social conservatives, the congressman has also affirmed his belief in the position that life begins at conception.
Despite dismissing Paul's clear intent of reaching out to social conservatives, Perkins did give credence to the congressman for putting foward a limited government message.
"And I do say, just like what we see happening on Wall Street and other parts of the country, we should not discount the fact there's a lot of discontent with big ineffective government that's taking place in this country and I think that the Ron Paul campaign reflects that. So, you can't write it off as saying that it's not important. The message that his campaign is sending is something other campaigns have to listen to as well."