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Themes of faith, freedom echo at CPAC in advance of straw poll

Published: Saturday, March 8 2014 6:45 p.m. MST

He added, "Gay people should have the same rights as everyone else, but they don't get extra rights."

Carson said he would defy critics who attempted to block him from speaking at an Atlanta banquet next weekend, saying they claimed his views would "poison" the minds of his hearers.

He elicited cheers when he asked "would it be the 'poison' of putting what God says in front of what any man says?"

According to the Associated Press, some Republican leaders warned against CPAC speakers emphasizing hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage in this year's midterm elections.

But Sara Palin, the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee, suggested Republicans should ignore the advice of the party establishment.

"We're the party with the plank that protects even our littlest sisters in the womb," she said Saturday. "We are the real women liberators."

Along with the highly charged reception from the CPAC audience, Carson was warmly praised by the man who introduced him, Timothy Goeglein, external relations vice president at Focus on the Family.

"Ben Carson embodies everything we believe about our first principles," Goeglein said. "I remember what the original conservative, Edmund Burke, once said, that 'One man, with conviction, makes a majority.' Perhaps he was thinking about Ben Carson ."

Carson drew emotional reactions from his hearers. Along with the "Run, Ben, Run," banners, the physician's words touched Michael and Susan Najvar from Gonzales, Texas. Each, separately, said, "I love Ben Carson" when asked their response to his remarks, with Michael Najar telling a reporter, "I'm going to tear up again, but I cried three times during his speech."

Patience Cox, a homeschooled high school freshman from Cascade, Md., said the speeches were "very good," and said she was glad "there were people who talked about religious freedom" at the event, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

And 62-year-old David Newman of Crofton, Md., said he found the CPAC speakers "stimulating and motivational," prompting him "to do more" politically in his community. Was he anxious to hear about religious liberty issues? Yes, he said, since "most conservatives have a strong faith."

Email: mkellner@deseretnews.com

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