Values Voters - Changing the Direction of Politics?

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Republicans are looking ahead to the 2012 elections, but they are not waiting until then to change the direction of politics in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of conservatives spent the weekend getting prepared for the November mid-term elections.

In one of the earliest tests for 2012, the Values Voters Summit ended with a surprise winner in the straw poll of who Republican voters might support to run against President Barak Obama.

"I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Pence won the straw poll for Republican candidate for president in 2012.

Click play for an updated report with CBN News Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon, followed by analysis from CBN News Senior Editor John Waage.

"Mike Pence is a fiscal conservative but more importantly for this conference a cultural conservative, unapologetic on issues like gay marriage and abortion," said Jonathan Martin, senior political writer for Politico. "And that really appeals to this kind of audience."

He finished ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich used the summit to speak out against Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, for warning insurers not to blame rate hikes on health care reform.

"She was behaving exactly in the spirit of the Soviet tyranny," Gingrich said.

Sarah Palin won the vice presidential straw poll, but she came in fifth in the poll for president.

Still, there was an enormous show of force by the Tea Party movement at the summit -- including its candidate, Christine O'Donnell, who defeated Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., a GOP establishment candidate in the Delaware primary.

"They call us wacky. They call us wing nuts. We call us, 'We The People,'" O'Donnell said.

Meanwhile, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R), who was defeated by Tea Party member Joe Miller, defiantly announced that in November she will be a write-in candidate.

"They tell me this can't be done, that this is a futile effort," Murkowski said. "Well, perhaps it's one time that they met one Republican woman who won't quit on Alaska." 

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Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at