WASHINGTON -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the preferred 2012 presidential nominee among Christian conservatives, according to straw poll results announced Saturday.
The Value Voters Summit's poll found that 28 percent of Christian conservatives said Huckabee would revive the Republican party and traditional conservative principles.
Leading the rest of the group of nine, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won about 12 percent.
Other strong contenders included Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who polled just behind Romney.
Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence came out in in a virtual tie, also close behind the others.
It's a big weekend in Washington, D.C., for Christian conservatives who are gathering for the annual summit -- and it's all about promoting family values by taking back the culture.
As this year's summit continued on Saturday, the crowd was energized.
"This year, we've got them on the run," author and radio host Dr. Bill Bennett said, referring to elected officials scrambling for unity on big government programs.
Bennett was there to encourage the crowd about the future of educating America's youth. He shared anecdotes from his new history textbook, which is making its way into curriculum lists across the country.
Following Bennett was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The morning had been building up to Romney's speech, which tackled President Barack Obama's policies and defended the rights of Americans to stand up and protest.
"When government is trying to take over health care," Romney said, "we have every good reason to be alarmed and to speak our mind."
"The last thing we need right now is the collapse of more guard rails that would leave us unprotected from government intrusion," Romney said about health care and the other bailouts the U.S. has seen since Obama took office.
Lobbing up a crowd pleaser, he predicted that the widespread distrust of the current government would lead to the election of pro-life and pro-family candidates -- specifically predicting that conservative candidate Bob McDonnell would be elected as Virginia's next governor this November.
"I don't deny that America's challenges are great. But times of difficulties bring out the character of the American people," Romney said.
"We don't get to choose the tests and trials that are ahead, but we can choose how we meet those challenges," he said. "We can go ahead certain that God does indeed bless America."
Although speakers at the event criticized Obama and other Democrats, when the summit began Friday, the first words were prayer for Obama and other leaders in Washington -- prayer that they make wise decisions when it comes to matters of faith, family, and freedom.
Many of these religious conservatives at the summit are disheartened by being further out of power than they've been for many years in Washington.
But Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., had encouraging words Friday for those partisans at the conference.
"I'm seeing men and women stepping forward as never before. This liberal, one-party government in Washington D.C. that's offering a massive expansion of government at home and a weak diplomacy abroad has awakened a sleeping giant across this country," Pence said.
"And I think it makes it possible for us to take this Congress back in 2010 and take this country back in 2012," he added.
CBN News will have a complete wrap up of the event Monday on the CBN Newschannel and on The 700 Club. Check local listings.
*Original Broadcast Date: September 19, 2009.