Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Republican allies in the House of Representatives said Friday at the Annual Values Voter Summit that they would like to hear more about their nominee's family and moral compass.
"It wouldn't hurt him to talk more about his personal accomplishments and his beautiful family," says Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who says he gets the Romneys' Christmas card every year and can testify that the family is continually growing. "I don't even know how many grandchildren they have now," he jokes. [See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]
Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford says Romney's most conservative base is looking for a leader who isn't simply a job creator, but a man who represents moral ideals.
"Romney's Mormon faith is not a liability anymore for evangelical voters," Lankford says, adding that as long as Romney talks about his faith broadly and stays away from lumping it into a category with Christianity, it can only help him with the conservative electorate.
The message of God, not government resonated with the audience in Washington Friday as conservative members of Congress took the stage to reignite their base.
Lankford, who spent more than two decades in ministry, told audiences this election is "about family, not about government."
"The stronger our families and churches, the more you don't need as much government," Lankford says. "Those of us who come from a biblical worldview cannot cave."
Lankford said no leader can be depended on to change the culture of the nation, but that it is the responsibility of the conservative electorate. [Read the U.S. News Debate: Can Mitt Romney Best Barack Obama on Foreign Policy?]
"We must get engaged with the families around us. 'I will no longer ignore the rubble of the families around me. I will do something,' " he shouted.
And while some in the audience felt Romney needed to do more to appeal to them as evangelical Christians, the electorate is unlikely to wander into President Obama's camp on November 6.
During his speech, Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp earned overwhelming applause when he blasted the Obama administration for its healthcare law provision, which requires religious institutions to provide contraception coverage to its employees. He also attacked the Obama administration for supporting what he called "the largest abortion business in the country, Planned Parenthood."
"I am the adopted father of four children, each of them either black, Hispanic, or Native American. I am incensed that this president gives money to an entity that's sole purpose is to kill children that look like mine."
All three of the Republican freshman who spoke Friday at the Values Voter Summit said the so-called war on women has been mischaracterized, insisting instead that there is a "war on religious freedom."
"We understand they are undermining marriage," Huelskamp says, "They are using your taxpayer money to undo your very values. That must stop, that should stop, and that will stop in November."
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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on twitter @foxreports.