GOP leaders hope Iowa shake-up draws candidates

Published 9:28 am Friday, August 8, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has spent the past year leading an effort to seize control of his state party, hoping to send a message that the kickoff presidential caucuses will be welcoming to all 2016 GOP hopefuls.

But as conservative prospects flood the state for a major annual gathering of evangelical Christians this weekend, it’s not clear whether the party makeover will make Iowa more attractive to a mainstream GOP contender. Evangelicals, tea partiers and libertarians remain strong in Iowa, which has been difficult terrain for more moderate Republicans in recent presidential cycles.

The lineup for the Family Leadership Summit in Ames — a daylong event expected to draw more than a 1,000 conservative Christians — features Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former caucus winners Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has also been touring the state this week.

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