Last night, instead of Monday Night Football, I watched streaming video of the Family Research Council's Values Voter debate in Ft. Lauderdale, and was most impressed by who was not there: the candidates who have a real shot to win the Republican nomination. No Mitt Romney. No John McCain. No Rudy Giuliani. No Fred Thompson.

(Wouldn't you have loved to see Rudy Giuliani questioned by Phyllis Schlafly’s)?

It's a safe bet that Romney and Thompson will indeed show up at the FRC's Values Voter briefing, scheduled for October 19 through October 21 in Washington. This gathering of religious conservatives will either be an important milestone in the presidential race or a peg for the media to write stories about how an unorthodox Republican is likely to get the nomination and how angry James Dobson will be at this point in 2008.

Last year, George Allen used the event to restart his campaign after the Macaca incident; Mitt Romney delivered a widely praised-and-criticized speech about marriage; Rudy Giuliani was treated like a rock star but spoke for 40 minutes without pandering to the audience.

BTW: Straw poll alert: Members of FRC Action, its PAC, are voting online in a straw poll.

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