Christie joins GOP courtship of evangelicals

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WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is joining the parade of ambitious Republicans courting religious conservatives as the early jockeying for the next presidential contest intensifies.

Christie was delivering his first major address to an evangelical conference Friday. That's the second day of the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual meeting, which brings hundreds of social conservative leaders to Washington each year.

The New Jersey governor is joined on a packed Friday agenda that also includes the GOP's 2012 vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and tea party firebrand Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Each is weighing a 2016 presidential run. The appearance comes at a critical time for Christie, who is working to recover from a political retribution scandal in his home state.

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