Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum Make Rounds With Conservatives in Iowa

Conservatives gather to talk politics in Iowa.

Potential 2016 presidential candidates are making a pilgrimage to Iowa.
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DES MOINES, Iowa – Start early, come often. That appears to be the presidential campaign strategy ahead of the 2016 race, particularly on the Republican side, as the party remains in search of a unifying figure.

Several top GOP potential presidential candidates are slated to speak at the Family Leadership Summit Saturday, a conservative values event many candidates attend to build support with Iowa's Republican Party base.

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"The purpose of the Family Leadership Summit is to educate and mobilize the conservative base regarding worldview application and issues that impact the family," said a release from the group. "The summit will provide Iowans the opportunity to hear top conservative national leaders, gathered in one place, cast their leadership vision."

Among the potential 2016 candidates scheduled to attend the event are former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who squeaked out a victory during the 2012 GOP Iowa caucus over eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney; Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an outspoken opponent of immigration reform rumored to be thinking about a presidential run; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a newly elected senator who has already created strong presidential buzz among conservative voters; and capping off the speeches will be Donald Trump, who cast a brief shadow over the 2012 GOP primary by flirting with the idea of a run. Also onstage will be top Iowa Republicans, Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

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While some find it hard to believe the presidential roadshow has already returned to Iowa so quickly after the 2012 election, many political analysts attributed Santorum's Iowa win over his more well-funded opponents to his shoe leather campaigning and near constant presence in the Hawkeye State. And as a bevy of Republican politicians begin vying for political support – including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., – making appearances in the early voting states is considered a must. Though Paul and Rubio are not attending the Family Leadership Summit, both have made post-2012 election Iowa visits.

The summit, which coincides with another common stomping ground for presidential wannabes in the Iowa State Fair, also brings leaders of influential conservative causes together with the aspiring politicians. Representatives of the National Organization for Marriage, which has led the effort to prevent legalization of same-sex marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which advocates for more religious displays in public spaces, and the Concerned Women of America, a women's group that supports abortion restrictions, are all scheduled to speak.

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