While many see social conservatives as the strongest bloc in the Republican Party, Gary Bauer sees them as just one leg of the three-legged stool that helped elect Ronald Reagan.
"Well, we're not the gatekeepers of the Republican Party," he said holding court with a handful of reporters outside the Omni Shoreham's main ballroom after speaking at the Value Voters Summit yesterday.
"Anybody that wants to come in should come on in if you find things to your liking, but I certainly would be bothered if libertarians or anybody else tried to move the party away from the three legs of the stool," Bauer said.
Bauer welcomes libertarians but thinks they can't replace the numbers that the social (or, as he calls them "value") conservatives bring to the party.
"If anybody could tell me who you're going to replace all those values conservatives with that would be an interesting discussion," Bauer said.
Types like Bauer are standing behind one of the more controversial members of their movement who was, not surprisingly, absent from their biggest annual gathering: Todd Akin.
"If I were him I'd stay in Missouri. He's down by five or six points and he's got some work to still do, but I haven't certainly given up on that seat. Todd Akin on a bad day with a misstatement is better than Claire McCaskill on the best day she's had in the United States Senate," he said.
But what about Akin, should the party embrace him or continue to treat him like a leper?
"I think the party ought to do what parties normally do which is try to win every race they can so they can be the governing party in Washington, D.C. As of now the voters of Missouri have selected Todd Akin as their candidate," he said.