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FAITH IN ACTION

Ralph Reed’s comeback – with a little help from his friends Newt and Karl

By Eric Marrapodi Washington (CNN) Ralph Reed beamed in the back corner of the colonial ballroom at Washington, DC’s Mayflower Hotel as Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland spoke. Reed clapped the loudest as Westmoreland laid out the plan for social conservatives to get involved in November’s mid term elections. “We need you in November worse than you can imagine,” Westmoreland told the crowed at the Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing. Of course, this is also Reed’s handiwork. He’s the former head of the Christian Coalition and now the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He organized the conference to bring high-powered conservatives to address the conference to help mobilize faith voters. Former George Bush adviser Karl Rove received a standing ovation from the crowd as he stepped up to the podium. He reminded the crowd the midterm elections are just a few weeks away. “Remember who are target is, it’s not people who are already with us, it’s people who are up in the air,” he said. “We have to use the words of our opponents to indict themselves. We have to offer a vision.” Reed is seen here as an important messenger of that vision and the crowd embraced him with rousing applause when he welcomed them. He told the group here his motivation for starting the new coalition came after watching the 2008 election unfold. He compared the Republican effort to that of the Washington Generals basketball team that plays against the Harlem Globe Trotters. “That was us in 2008, we showed up to get beat,” he said. Not long after the 2008 election Reed says he got a call from radio and television host Sean Hannity who implored Reed to get back in the political game and organize social conservatives as he once had with the Christian Coalition. Reed said his new coalition is gaining 1,000 new members a day. One way he said they are able to grow so quickly is with shoe leather hitting the streets. “All the money in the world can’t substitute a strong grass roots organization,” Reed said. That organization he promised would, “make a lot of noise in the next 50 days.” The group he says will push for several ideas. He said they wanted to see an end to stimulus funding, corporate bail outs, repeal the recent health care legislation, and to “stop apologizing for America like Barack Obama did in his speech to Cairo.” The big draw of the morning was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich says he this the coming mid term elections, “could be bigger than the 1994 election.” He said, “I believe the election of 2010 and 2012 will be a referendum on values.” The biggest response from the crowd came when Gingrich began talking about radical Islam. “What threatens us isn’t terrorism what threatens us is radical Islam.” He said the current administration has missed the mark on national security. “They willfully desire to avoid reality,” he said. In another example, Gingrich then pointed to comments New York City Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg made after the attempted car bombing in Times Square when he suggested the bomber could be upset with the new healthcare legislation. “There aren’t car bomb factories sitting around America among tea parties members angry about the health care bill.” Similarly, he continued, “this administration is an absolute impediment to protecting our country and defeating our enemies.” In closing Gingrich echoed the theme from the podium all morning. “You have to take this moral framework but then you have to roll up your sleeves and apply it.” This conference is evidence Reed is doing exactly that.

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