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Republicans gather to hear '16 hopefuls

  // Wednesday, 28 May 2014 20:34 //

New Orleans Midterm election campaigns are in full swing, but several thousand Republicans gathering in Louisiana look toward a bigger prize.

Weve got to figure out how to take back this country and win the White House again, Peggy Eichelmann of San Antonio, Texas, said Thursday as she and her husband, Norman, met with fellow delegates to the Republican Leadership Conference.

The annual event has grown into an opportunity for rising GOP stars to address conservative activists who play key roles in the nominating process. Speakers this year include tea party favorites Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. Delegates also will hear from 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was slated to address the opening session Thursday evening, as was reality television star Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who has become a pop culture icon among some conservatives for his outspoken Christian faith.

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