by Robert Morrison
October 11, 2012
Following a press conference and joint statements on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation Values Bus returned to the Airport Crowne Plaza to set up for the Western Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The mood was apprehensive among the activists gathered for this important meeting. It was the afternoon of the first presidential debate.
The following morning dawned cold and clear, but the mood had changed abruptly. It was as if a jolt of electricity had gone through the attendees. Gov. Romney came by for a short, unscheduled greeting to the CPAC conferees. He received a hero’s welcome. It was truly amazing to see the change in the atmosphere. Must have been climate change.
The Values Bus proceeded to Loveland in a cold drizzle. There, a small but enthusiastic crowd huddled to hear Heritage’s Vice President for Communications Genevieve Wood and this writer speak about the vital social and economic issues that voters should consider this fall. Candidates for state and local office joined the speakers roster as they endorsed the ideals principles promoted by the Values Bus.
It’s a reminder of what Ronald Reagan said before a church audience in 1980: You can’t endorse me, but I can endorse you. When candidates take the time to publicly embrace the Values Bus message, it counts.
Saturday, we set up shop at a gun show in Pueblo, Colorado. Several thousand people came through the exhibits. It took awhile for some of the attendees to warm to our FRC message. But once the kids started taking little blue basketballs, the ice broke. We had many families coming by, showing their children the big blue bus and explaining what we were about. The Coloradans say “Howdy” in an unaffected way. It is definitely a laid-back crowd. And not since I stood duty in the armory in boot camp have I seen so many weapons. Don’t Tread on Me flags captured the spirit of the event.
I had a chance to walk around the exhibits and engaged the “Gunzilla” folks in a lively conversation. They were selling a product that cleans, protects, and lubricates guns without chapping and cracking the users’ hands. The son of the marketer of “Gunzilla” explained to me how his friends, soldiers coming back from Iraq, had shown him their cracked and bleeding hands. This was the result of the harsh cleaners they had had to use to keep their weapons functioning in fire fights. The young man proudly told me how his dad had approached a chemist friend and they’d provided a safe, non-flammable, and environmentally sound alternative product that would do everything with one application. And it was kind to hands.
That led to a discussion of gun oil in general. In my writing with Ken Blackwell, I had learned that wolves are highly sensitive to the smell of gun oil. They have learned to associate that smell with humans, with hunters, and stay away. Thus, even the non-gun bearing hikers and campers who go out into the wilderness are protected by the hunters and ranchers.
Our last stop was a happy homecoming at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. Harsh weather forced us inside the lobby of Focus’ beautiful main building. There, we set up our tables and banners. FRC’s Rev. Randy Wilson opened the rally with prayer. He was most eloquent in that House of Prayer.
Carrie Gordon Earll of CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, welcomed us and urged all the rally attendees to take their Colorado voters guide. This is the state equivalent of the FRCAction Voters Guide. Together, we provided citizens with the information they need to hold their state, congressional, and presidential candidates accountable.
State Sen. Kent Lambert reminded everyone of the national and international issues at stake in the fall elections. Sen. Lamber is not a candidate this cycle, so he was free to speak of the importance of the full range of issues voters will decide.
Former State Sen. Dave Schultheis offered a prepared address that raised profound issues of forcing Americans to pay for the destruction of innocent human lives through abortion. Sen. Schultheis movingly appealed for Christian citizens to vote and bring their family and friends to the polling places in order to preserve our heritage of religious freedom.
I was happy to applaud both of these able public servants—even as they stole all my lines. Happily, I had been talking earlier with Congressman Doug Lamborn about our mutual admiration for Ronald Reagan. The Congressman is a candidate this cycle, so legal advice given to our hosts preferred he not address the rally.
Very well. I thanked Mr. Lamborn for coming. And I launched into a tribute to Ronald Reagan’s pro-life and traditional family values positions. I pointed out that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was wrong to say that Reagan didn’t care that much about abortion. (Correcting Chris Matthews’ errors could be nearly full-time work.)
Ronald Reagan was the first president to speak of the unborn in his Inaugural Addresses and in his State of the Union messages. He called abortion “a wound in America’s soul.” He wrote a book titled “Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation,” the first sitting president to publish a book. I noted that I had gone to the Reagan Library for three days of research into Reagan’s actions on the abortion issue.
I thought when I went that I might not have enough material there to occupy for three full days. I could easily have spent three weeks there. I held hundreds of handwritten letters in my hand—letters in which Ronald Reagan invariably anguished over “this slaughter of innocents.”
How moving to see this oldest of America’s presidents care so deeply about the youngest of Americans.
I concluded by speaking of the speech President Reagan gave at the Berlin Wall. He said “Tear Down this Wall” there. That part was widely reported.
But I discovered only in 2009 another important part of Reagan’s speech. He said the East German Communists had erected a radio tower to overshadow all the church steeples in East Berlin. But it had a defect. The atheist authorities there tried to etch it out with acid. They tried to paint it over. They tried to sandblast the defect.
But when the sun shone on the globe of the radio tower, the President said, “it reflects the Sign of the Cross.” I shared with my listeners at Focus on the Family the fact that that was only time any president had publicly invoked the Sign of the Cross. And I admitted that I got excited at reading my president’s words, just as Chris Matthews does now.