September 19, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) -The four top Republican presidential candidates skipped Monday's "Values Voter" debate, leaving the forum to several second-tier candidates who lag at single digit levels of poll support.[chop]
The debate, which was held at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, intended to stimulate debate over religious and moral issues, including those pertaining to human life and family.
Rudolph Giuliani, who shares front runner status with Fred Thompson, claimed he had not been present at the debate because he "didn't know about it", although he was in the Fort Lauderdale area during the debate, and was contradicting a previous statement by his campaign that his schedule wouldn't permit it.
Debate organizers left four empty lecterns to represent the four top candidates who failed to attend the debate: Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Fred Thompson. All four have a history of varying levels of inconsistency on human life issues.[chop]
The participants included pro-life candidates Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Ron Paul, Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter. Keyes entered the race very recently, complaining that fundamental values were not being adequately represented
At the conclusion of the debate, Mike Huckabee won the "value voters" straw poll, provoking the New York Times to speculate "whether Christian conservative leaders and voters might be able to coalesce around him as a longshot candidate and propel him to the first tier in the Republican race." Notably, Mitt Romney, who has made a strong pitch to "value voters" in the past, received no votes, the lowest count in the poll.