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Conservatives: GOP needs to stand on principle

OXON HILL, Md. — Republican leaders implored conservatives to offer stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s policies and stand firm on principles as a way to win back Senate control in the fall elections and prepare for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Thursday marked the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brought together prospective White House candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. With the party facing a tug of war for the soul of the GOP, Republicans made the case that they must unite and offer a different path in the midterm elections.

“You win elections by standing for principle and inspiring people that there is a better tomorrow,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, among a group of potential 2016 presidential hopefuls appearing at the conference.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, downplayed divisions within the party as “creative tension” and urged conservative activists to “give each other the benefit of the doubt” in the debate over the party’s future.