GOP leaders court social conservatives


WASHINGTON (AP) — The fight for the soul of the Republican Party intensifies this week as GOP leaders gather in Washington to court social conservatives.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group created by former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, launches a conference Thursday designed to strengthen the evangelical influence in national politics. The gathering also gives many social conservative activists their first look at potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are among those set to address the coalition on Thursday. Republican stars on the schedule Friday and Saturday include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The Republican National Committee recently released a report calling for more tolerant attitudes on social issues such as gay marriage.

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