Organizers Build Up Events in Iowa, and the Candidates Come

NYT FDAlan Rappeport 7/17/2015

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Good Friday morning from Washington, where hardly anyone seems to be in town. President Obama moves on to New York from Oklahoma and nearly every candidate seems to be heading to Iowa for a couple of large party gatherings.

The Iowa caucuses are more than six months away, but party activists in the state will get the chance to size up several Republican presidential candidates at one time this weekend.

Saturday brings the Family Leadership Summit meeting, the annual gathering in Ames intended to “inspire, educate and motivate” conservatives.

The lineup will include Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Donald J. Trump.

Breaking from the traditional cattle call, organizers will do away with speeches, and the candidates instead will each field about 20 minutes of questions from Frank Lutz, a conservative pollster.

Drew Zahn, a spokesman for the gathering, said that the themes of the day would include national security, economics and religious freedom.

There should be plenty to talk about after the recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage that have rankled many conservatives. The candidates will also have a better idea of where they stand on the fund-raising front now that the campaigns have released their latest financial disclosures.

Mr. Trump’s attendance at the event will most likely create additional buzz, as the billionaire businessman’s contentious comments on immigration have become a litmus test for his fellow Republicans and have brought a sense of disorder to the process. For Mr. Trump, who has been married three times and has liberal views on some policy issues, it will be a chance to reintroduce himself to the religious conservative crowd at a time when he has been at or near the lead in several opinion polls.