Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan headlined the first day of the Values Voter Summit Friday, a meeting of conservative Christians that has quickly become the "must attend" event for Republican political candidates.
In addition to providing a scathing criticism of the Obama administration's foreign and economic policies, Ryan also gave an impassioned plea to voters to get to know Mitt Romney better.
"He's solid and trustworthy, faithful and honorable," Ryan said of Romney, adding he and others have repeatedly urged the former Massachusetts governor to speak of himself more often.
"He's not only a fine businessman, he is a fine man, worthy of leading our country, and ready to lead the great turnaround we have spent four years waiting for," Ryan added.
Ryan, a life-long Catholic, seemed at home among the Values Voter delegates, many of whom are members of the Family Research Council (FRC) or American Family Association (AFA), the event's co-sponsors.
The FRC describes itself as organization aimed at passing legislation and advancing policy that coordinates with its "faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview."
Other speakers this morning included Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who spoke of grappling with his own personal faith before attacking President Barack Obama for his stance on abortion.
"Primary among [government's] powers and duties is the protection of life. The government cannot protect liberty if it does not first protect life," Paul said.
Minnesota Rep. Michel Bachmann also touched on Obama's social policies, before launching into a fierce attack on the president's handling of recent attacks on U.S. embassies abroad.
"The fires of radical Islamic traditionalism are not just limited to one country. They are raging all across Africa and all across Asia...and now the violence has come to us, the United States," Bachmann said.
Bachmann also accused the president of pushing a policy of "Islamic enforced speech codes" in the FBI, CIA and DOD and a "policy of appeasement" overseas.
"It is my belief and my opinion that Barack Obama has been the most dangerous president we have ever had on American foreign policy," she concluded.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added religion into the foreign policy debate Friday, saying in his speech at the summit "the fight for religious freedom starts here at home because we are one nation under God."
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, actor Kirk Cameron and conservative host Bill Bennett also spoke Friday morning.
In addition to the many speeches being given Friday and Saturday, delegates are also able to visit the VVS exhibition hall, where multiple faith-based organization, political action groups and universities have set up tables.
The range of exhibition material is wide, meant to appeal to long-term conservative voters, families and students who will vote for the first time this November.
RTTNews caught up with two student delegates in the exhibition area, one of which will be voting in November for the first time.
Caleb Little, 18, from Wheatfield, Indiana, said, "I'm just looking forward to getting to see a lot of these conservative Christians get together and articulate their values."
"To think about those ideas and be able to form my own opinion," is his ultimate goal, Little added.
Josh Willenbrink, 17, from Cincinnati, Ohio, said "I want to see how the speakers can provide us with options with how to move forward in the future and what their ideas are on how to get this country back on track."
But the summit was not without controversy. The FRC has been under fire in recent years for its staunch opposition to gay marriage, abortion and the separation of religion from politics.
In 2010, the FRC was listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center and earlier this year, a pro-LGBT activist entered the FRC headquarters in DC and opened fire, injuring a security guard.
At the summit, Paul Ryan's speech was interrupted twice by anti-corporation activists from the Take the Money Out of Politics campaign (twitter: @takethemoneyout), who shouted "Corporate Values Out, Christian Values In, Citizens United, Ryan It's a Sin," while being escorted out by security staff.
One young female protester, while being escorted out by security personnel, told RTTNews she was protesting the summit because corporate rules keep HIV/AIDS patients from receiving necessary medication.
The Value Voter Summit will continue Saturday when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and former presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are scheduled to speak.
by RTT Staff Writer
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