By Josef Kuhn
Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) Amid a political climate dominated by economic concerns, social conservatives are as concerned as ever about issues like abortion and gay marriage, a leading conservative activist said Tuesday (Sept. 27).
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), spoke about what "values voters" and evangelicals want in a presidential candidate as Republicans court a key constituency in the GOP.
The media have given the impression that the economy will far outweigh social issues in the 2012 elections, Perkins said, but "that's not the case with evangelical voters."
In fact, he said, social conservatives don't see a dichotomy between social and economic issues, listing health care, tax policy, and jobs as "not just fiscal issues."
For example, values voters see big government and deficit spending as the result of policies that arise "when the natural family is looked down upon" and thereby foster dependency.
Perkins spoke less than two weeks before the FRC's political arm, FRC Action, hosts the annual Values Voter Summit, which will feature most major Republican candidates. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman declined to attend.
Perkins indicated that the voters at the summit are not likely to pick a more moderate candidate in the straw poll. "History shows that conservatives win when they actually are conservative," he said.Perkins said the Republican nomination remains open, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry will have to "work his way back in to being a front-runner," and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has downplayed social issues, "is going to have to shore that up" to get the support of values voters.