Key Christian Conservative Leader Defends Romney Engagement With 'Values Voters'

Conservative leader Tony Perkins says Mitt Romney is trying to cater to social conservatives.

WASHINGTON, DC — Family Research Council president Tony Perkins Saturday sought to tamp down complaints that Mitt Romney is ignoring social conservatives, rejecting the idea that the GOP nominee has "slighted" conservative voters even as he acknowledged “theological” differences with Romney.

"I in no way, in no way, let me be very explicit, in no way do I feel like he's slighted values voters. I feel that he's very responsive," Perkins told reporters Saturday.

"I've been communicating regularly with the campaign," Perkins said. "I have met with the candidate. And I will say he even called me on the day that FRC was attacked in a shooting, he called to extend his condolences, his thoughts, his prayers for our team."

"So I will say the communications we have had with this campaign and their responsiveness to the issues we care about has actually been better than any candidate or campaign that I have worked with at the nine years I've been at FRC," Perkins said.

Still, Perkins expressed some reservations with Romney despite the communication between the two, pointing out that he and Romney had different faiths, for example.

"That does not mean that he is the one that I am most ideologically aligned with," Perkins said. "He and I, I've said this many times, I've said this to him, we share some significant theological differences when it comes to our personal faith."

Social conservatives took a long time to come around to Romney, forcing him through a long primary season and occasionally giving the edge to competitors like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Romney himself didn't come to the Values Voter Summit, sending vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in his stead, though he did appear in a video message.

Romney's not appearing in person was a "major diss" and "inexcusable," conservative radio host Bryan Fischer told BuzzFeed yesterday.

"It’s just kind of an indication that he has not yet found a way to connect with social conservatives," Fischer said, although he did later say that he approved of the content of Romney's video message.

But Perkins dismissed those complaints.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a place other than the Republican convention where you'll have the presidential candidate and the vice-presidential candidate in the same place," Perkins argued.