(Oct. 13-14, 2017)  President Donald J. Trump received an enthusiastic welcome Friday as he addressed about 2,000 Christian conservative activists at the 12th annual Values Voter Summit held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  Trump, the first sitting president to address the group, declared, "We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values." [transcript]  Many analysts believe Trump owes his victory in the Nov. 2016 election to social conservatives, and in the nine months since he took office, the Trump administration has taken many actions supported by this constituency.  

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), observed in a welcome note in the summit program that, "[The] new administration has kept its campaign promises by reinstituting the pro-life Mexico City Policy, nominating strong constitutionalist Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, protecting religious liberty through executive order, and shielding in our military from the radical social experimentation of the Obama years by ending its transgender policy."  Addressing attendees Perkins said, "This is our moment.  We must seize this moment and save our Republic; we must save our Republic from the dangerous and destructive policies that were unleashed by the Barack Obama administration. 

Over two days, attendees from around the country heard from dozens of faith and political leaders, including several with ties to the administration.

The most significant speech came from Steve Bannon, who served as chief White House strategist until about two months ago, and is now executive chair of Breitbart News.  In his remarks Bannon highlighted Judge Roy Moore's win over establishment-backed appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Sept. 26 Republican U.S. Senate run-off and to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)'s decision not to seek re-election.  He warned that Senators who are not supporting and defending Trump could expect a similar fate.  "So all you folks that are so concerned that you're going to get primaried and defeated, you know there's time for a mea culpa," he stated.  "But until that time, they're coming for you."  Bannon's war on the GOP establishment could be a major factor shaping the political landscape heading into the 2018 mid-term elections or it could just be big talk.  Bannon also confidently predicted, "President Trump is not only going to finish this term; he going to win with 400 electoral votes in 2020." [transcript]

Earlier Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, in a dialogue with Perkins, presented a rosy account of working in the administration.  Former White House advisor Seb Gorka, now serving as chief strategist for the MAGA Coalition, a super PAC, spoke of the "national movement to retake our country."

The Values Voter Summit does have some strong critics. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the gathering as "a rogues' gallery of the radical right" and has labeled FRC a hate group "because of its demonizing lies about the LGBT community." GLAAD, a group which promostes acceptance for the LGBTQ community, tweeted, "The people at #VVS17 aren't just 'conservative voters,' they're the most extreme anti-LGBTQ activists in the country."  Addressing the subject of abortion Reproaction, "a new direct action group forming to increase access to abortion and advance reproductive justice," put a mobile billboard outside the Omni Shoreham Hotel (+) and did some keyword advertising on Google search.

The activists attending the summit are in important part of Trump's base.  In Bannon's words, they were "the key that picked the lock," enabling Trump to win in key battleground states.  While they are pleased with the actions President Trump taken thus far, they are looking forward to more successes.  As Perkins stated, "The time to defend is over, folks.  It is time to advance, faith, family and freedom to every corner of America."

FRC President Tony Perkins donned waders to welcome "swamp drainers" to the summit.