- - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Donald Trump will be the first Republican presidential nominee to personally address thousands of conservative grassroots activists when he takes the stage at the 2016 Values Voter Summit in September.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak on Sept. 9 — the first day of the three-day annual conference and just 59 days before Election Day.

This is the first time a Republican nominee for president has attended the Values Voter Summit since its inception in 2006. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney prepared a video for the crowd, while in 2008, neither Arizona Sen. John McCain nor his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, attended the event; the latter because her son was deploying to Iraq.

All three of these Republican political leaders have personally spoken at other Values Voter Summits; now-House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has often addressed the crowds, and did so in 2012 when he was Mr. Romney’s running mate.

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Action, praised Mr. Trump for coming to “make his case directly to conservative activists from across the country.”

There’s a growing understanding among voters that “the future of our freedoms and our identity as Americans hang in the balance” of this election, said Mr. Perkins. “The fact that he is the first Republican nominee to attend since the summit’s inception in 2006 demonstrates his understanding of the importance of values voters in the general election and his desire to work with them in addressing the critical issues facing our nation.”

The Values Voter Summit was created to ensure a political platform for family values, such as religious freedom, preserving traditional marriage and protecting life, as well as economic and national security issues. The summit is sponsored by a host of traditional values and conservative groups, including AFA Action, American Values, First Liberty Institute, The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship, United in Purpose, 2nd Vote, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Family Research Council.

The Washington Times is again the summit’s media partner.

On Sept. 10, the Faith, Family and Freedom Gala dinner will present former Education Secretary and drug czar Bill Bennett with the Vision and Leadership Award.

Confirmed speakers for the Sept. 9-11 conference include Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, along with Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Matt Bevin of Kentucky, and Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee and Louie Gohmert of Texas. North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, child psychologist James Dobson, actor Kirk Cameron, conservative leader Star Parker, Lt. Col. Oliver North, Duck Dynasty’s Alan Robertson, and former lawmakers Allen West, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are among many other speakers to address attendees.

The summit, which will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest Washington, includes an exhibit hall, book signings and radio row.

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