The just-concluded Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. was punctuated by standing ovations. Among them: a few for the President, who spoke decisively but without pugnacity; for Bannon and Gorka, the red-meat guys; for Alveda King, bringing the crowd to its feet to join her in song.

And then there was the one for Steve Scalise.

Months after a gunman’s savage and politically-motivated attack left him near death, Congressman Scalise made his way to the Values Voter podium last Friday to the sound of appreciative cheers. He moved with the aid of crutches, the only visible sign of his injuries. Once at the podium, he spoke in the strong and steady voice of a man eager to get to work.

As House Majority Whip, he has the unenviable task of herding the GOP cats when it’s time for votes on the House floor. HIs position is probably what earned him an invitation to speak at Values Voter. He understands first things first, though. Before he spoke about policy, he spoke about gratitude.

After he was shot, while he was in the hospital, he and his family received countless prayers and good wishes, including messages from people who are not in political harmony with him. That touched him deeply. He understood that the messages were not merely routine.

“You knew that this was an attack on the values of our country….I cannot thank you enough for those prayers and that love.” This from a man who spent three and a half months in a hospital.

He was candid in his speech about the tough times past and to come, as he and his family face long-term challenges arising from his injuries. His candor made his enthusiastic demeanor all the more meaningful. “We have a great and mighty God,” he declared, “and I am a living example of the miracles he can produce.”

Then, and only then, he addressed specific policy initiatives. He said, “I came back with an even sharper focus” on family, friends and America.

He Considers the Pain-Capable Act a victory. That’s the measure to restrict abortions after 20 weeks, the point in pregnancy when science indicates that unborn children can feel pain. Passage of the measure was a near thing. “As Majority Whip, I had to put that coalition together. But we did.” Now, the bill is in the Senate, its prospects uncertain in view of the particular batch of Republicans now serving. “Tell your Senators to pass it,” Scales urged. The President “wants to sign this bill into law.”

The bill includes cutting federal funding to the nations’s largest abortion provider. That gives me pause, as voter who questioned (and still questions) the depth of the President’s roots on the life issues. Scalise has no doubts. “He wants to sign this.”

He’s determined to support the President’s tax reform proposals. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone give a snappier summary and smile while doing it: reduce personal rates; reduce business rates to encourage families to bring jobs back to this country; repeal the death tax, double the child tax credit (now there’s a pro-life initiative).

He did not dwell on the unhappy fate thus far of efforts to repeal Obamacare, beyond saying “let’s not give up fights. President Trump wants these on his desk.”

All this was said in a tone that most other speakers at Values Voters didn’t approach. He was passionate and determined without breathing fire. He didn’t sound as though we were all under siege; in fact he radiated hope, both political and personal.

HIs final words to the crowd, coming after all he has experienced these past months, rang with truth that brought the audience to its feet yet again: “It’s great to be alive.”

Ellen is a New Hampshire writer and pro-life activist. Read more by and about her at ellenkolb.com.

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