Mike Pence Wins Value Voters Presidential Straw Poll
Republican congressman from Indiana upsets better-known candidates
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With 24 percent of the vote, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, helped by a speech to the group Friday, narrowly beat former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the event in 2009 with 22 percent.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney placed third with 13 percent, followed by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 10 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 7 percent. Pence also won the vote for vice president, followed by Palin and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. All of the politicians listed above, save Palin, spoke at the Washington, D.C. event, which was sponsored by the Family Research Council.
While chairman of the House Republican Conference and part of the congressional leadership, Pence, whose district sprawls across the eastern part of Indiana, remains unknown to many conservatives. He introduced himself in the speech he made on Friday.
"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes,” said Pence. “All you really need to know is that I'm the father of three teenagers (hence the white hair), I have been married for 25 years to an elementary school teacher who is the love of my life -- Karen Pence -- and I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
While Pence, who first won election to Congress in 2000, criticized the Obama administration and Democrats in control of Congress, he also lashed out at policies backed by former President George W. Bush.
"Even Republicans in Congress are getting back to fiscal discipline and reform,” said Pence. “Let's be honest, four years ago Republicans in Congress didn't just lose their majority, they lost their way. When I opposed No Child Left Behind, when I opposed the Medicare prescription drug bill, and when I opposed the Wall Street bailout, I knew that if we kept acting like big government liberals, the American people were eventually going to go with the professionals. And they did.
"The truth is our party in Congress walked away from the principles that minted our national governing majority and the American people walked away from us,” added Pence.
"These are serious times,” continued Pence. “A nation conceived in liberty has come of age in bondage to big government. We've lost respect to the world. We are going broke. And our social and cultural fabric is unraveling. People are scared.”
Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and moved to Florida earlier in the year where has become increasingly active in backing Sunshine State Republicans, placed second, only nine votes behind Pence.
Asked about his finish, Huckabee joked that it is better than coming in third and praised Pence for his character and convictions. “Straw polls are just that, they’re straw polls,” said Huckabee to the media on Sunday.
Romney, who also ran in 2008, condemned the president’s economic agenda in his remarks to the summit.
“This president and his fellow travelers in Congress implemented the most anti-growth, anti-investment, anti-jobs measures we've seen in our lifetimes,” said Romney. “He called it ambitious. It was reckless. He scared employers, so jobs are scarce. The uncertainty and lack of predictability he created has caused businesses to shrink from spending and from hiring. He hasn't helped end the crisis, he made it deeper, longer and more painful. We have had governments declare war on poverty and war on drugs, but this is the first time our government has declared war on free enterprise.”
Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee in Florida's U.S. Senate race, placed 13th in the field, ahead of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Rubio and Huckabee tied for sixth in the vice presidential straw poll behind Pence, Palin, Santorum, Ryan and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint from South Carolina.
Campaigning in Jacksonville Saturday, members of the Rubio team said they appreciate the honor of being included in the poll but they are concentrating on the U.S. Senate contest.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.