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Presidential hopefuls took their pitches to social conservatives at the Values Voter summit Friday, with starkly different styles.
Heading into a possible 2016 presidential run, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was already a favorite with that key GOP demographic. His performance Friday showed why.
In a fiery speech that pulled the crowd to its feet, the first White House contender to take the stage spoke against abortion and same-sex marriage, telling the audience they were living in “dangerous, extreme, radical times,” and dubbing Democrats “an extreme, radical party.”
“We’re 39 days from a pivotal election. If you want to defend the First Amendment and religious liberty, vote Harry Reid out,” he said, calling for the elimination of everything from Common Core standards to the Affordable Care Act.
Likely presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who followed Cruz, struck a more measured tone as he continued his recent efforts to reach out to social conservatives wary of his libertarian leanings. “Where there is liberty, there is always plenty of space for God,” he said.
Paul addressed his opposition to the plan to provide arms to foreign fighters battling the Islamic State — which has taken aim at the region’s Christian community, among others — even as he supports the idea of military intervention against the group.
“You and I must stand with our fellow Christians around the world,” Paul said. “But that does not...mean arming both sides in every conflict.”
Attendees at the conference — which is sponsored by FRC Action, the legislative arm of the Family Research Council — also heard from several other Republicans on the list of potential 2016 candidates, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“If you look at the current conservative movement, the Republican Party, there are issues we haven’t even lost yet, and we’re talking about giving up,” Santorum told the group. “...Quit being scared. Start being activists and making things happen."