Expected to drop out of the race later today in his native Kansas, Sam Brownback came to the Values Voters Summit this morning to give not a stump speech but a call to action. Without a mention of his expected withdrawal -- or the presidential race at all -- Brownback was a striking counterpoint to John McCain, who preceded him with a lackluster, passionless speech. McCain, who got a stony reception for his inclusion of war on terror detainees in his call to treat all life as sacred, seemed uninspired and even bored with his own overtold stories of being tortured as a POW. Brownback, who has been criticized by movement insiders for his own lack of passion on the campaign trail, was full of emotion on the stock anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage rhetoric and the comparison -- standard fare by now -- of "Islamo-fascism" to "atheistic communism." But it was his closing call to action that was intended to get his followers to vote -- even if not for him. “Thi s is our time. This is our destiny. ... We are great because we are good. If we ever lose our fundamental goodness, we will lose our greatness.”

What that "goodness" might be was on display when Brownback was followed by an even more fiery Tom Tancredo, who declared himself the only genuine conservative in the race. One of his biggest applause lines was his hailing of the House's failure to override Bush's veto of the S-CHIP bill, which he called "national socialized medicine." (The audience was less enthusiastic with his parable comparing the negotiations over the bill with negotiating over the price of a hooker.) The crowd was wild for his denunciations of "the cult of multi-culturalism which is creating a linguistic tower of Babel" and cities which have become "polyglot boarding houses," and his call for a strong national defense because “our enemies are psychopaths and our allies are the French.”

--Sarah Posner

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