Paul Ryan to speak at Values Voter Summit
By Felicia Sonmez,
Presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will speak at September’s Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social-conservative activists in Washington, D.C., that is considered a must-stop event for GOP White House contenders.
The summit will take place Sept. 14-16 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been invited, but his attendance is not yet confirmed, according to the group.
Ryan’s goals at the conference will likely be two-fold: to introduce himself to an electorate that may still be largely unfamiliar with him and to rally the GOP’s social conservatives around Romney, whose Mormon faith has been viewed with suspicion by some on the religious right.
Giving Ryan a boost is the fact that the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual event, praised Romney’s pick of the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate in a statement last week.
While Ryan is best known for his work on the House GOP budget, his religion and his views on social issues are likely to gain further prominence as he ascends on the national stage.
Ryan is a Roman Catholic, the first to win the GOP vice presidential spot since 1964. On Sunday, his second day as Romney’s running mate, he departed a Charlotte, N.C., hotel early in the morning and without giving notice to reporters to attend Mass at a nearby church.
He has been vocal on social issues in the past, although not as much as some other top Republicans, such as former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who have placed social issues front-and-center in their campaigns. When Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) suggested in 2010 that the GOP should call a truce on social issues, Ryan publicly criticized his remarks.
When it comes to playing the traditional running-mate role of partisan attack dog, Ryan’s faith also gives him a platform from which to make the GOP’s case that the contraception mandate in the national health-care law represents a violation of religious liberty.
This year will mark Ryan’s first time addressing the Values Voter Summit, although his name was among those appearing on ballots in 2010 for the group’s annual straw poll.
In that poll, Ryan garnered 1 percent of the vote — the same share as a then-little-known Florida Republican, Marco Rubio, as well as Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Paul went on to win the 2011 straw poll.
Ryan placed fourth in the 2010 vice presidential straw poll, with 7 percent.
Others expected to address this year’s conference include Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Several others, including Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R), have been invited but have not yet confirmed.