Huckabee opens conservative summit with attack on left

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blamed the country's economic woes on a loss of "character and integrity."

"It's our 'recovery fall,' when we take back both the House and the Senate,” the former 2008 presidential candidate said in a speech Friday, in reference to the White House's "Recovery Summer" program. He also criticized President Obama's "extreme left agenda."

Huckabee was one of the opening speakers at the Family Research Council's annual Values Voter Summit, which began in Washington on Friday. In his remarks, he criticized the Democrats' healthcare plan and their response to the BP oil spill and the financial crisis.

Huckabee blamed the financial crisis on a breakdown of "character and integrity," as opposed to bad public policy.

"Many of our economic issues are the result of the breakdown of something of the character and integrity," he said. "The meltdown of Wall Street was not a money crisis, it was a moral crisis. They essentially turned Wall Street into a massive financial casino."

He added, "We need to understand that there is a direct correlation between the integrity of families and the stability of families and the stability of our economy."

He offered a view of limited government. "It's to basically defend our borders and leave us alone, and let us raise our families and run our businesses and breathe good American air," he said.

Huckabee, who is mulling a second White House bid in 2012, called the Democrats' healthcare plan a "disaster."

"It’s really about control," he said. "Every model on which Obamacare is based has been an abject financial disaster."

He also sharply criticized the president's response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It took him three months for him to realize that it was not Tony Hayward's disaster, it was his," he said. "Through it all, the president seemed to be more annoyed than engaged."

"What I wish would have happened is that [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel should have sent a dead fish to [Interior] Secretary [Ken] Salazar that might have prevented a whole bunch of dead fish in the Gulf Coast," he said. "That would have been a more appropriate response."

Emanuel, when he was a political operative, was said to have sent a dead fish to a pollster who made him angry.

The meeting of conservative activists was opened by Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council. "We're going to try to make you upset so you go home and do something about it," he told attendees.

Several other prominent conservative Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), are scheduled to speak throughout the two-day event.