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2016 race heats up as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz hit Iowa

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Iowa,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,Campaigns

The 2016 Republican race for the White House kick starts Friday as both Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul hit Iowa which holds the first contest, the famous Iowa Caucus, that has played an outsized role picking presidents.

Texan Cruz and Paul of Kentucky are set to deliver addresses to evangelical leaders and Cruz is set to speak to the state party. Paul opened his unofficial presidential campaign in Iowa last May. He has scheduled a press conference for Friday afternoon.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, plans to visit Iowa later this year.

Speaking at the so-called "Pastors and Pews" event today gives Paul and Cruz a chance to reach the key Iowa evangelical voter that plays a dominant role in the Iowa caucus. And by speaking to the Christian leaders so early in the 2016 race, the duo are also endorsing the belief among those not in the Republican establishment that they've been forced to accept unworthy presidential candidates in the past.

Organizer David Lane recently told Secrets that he is beginning the process of introducing conservative candidates to pastors around the nation early because he hopes to generate more energy among Christians to have greater influence in the primary and caucus process.

"And so it begins. Yes it does," he said. "We're going to get out early. We're going to try to eliminate the stuff that they [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and Romneys left," said Lane, whose efforts helped make former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee a viable candidate in 2008.

"We're going to be serious this time, maybe," he said.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.