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Governor, GOP Leaders In Town

NDIAN WELLS (CNS) – Conservatives and moderates are expected to clash over platform issues this weekend at the GOP’s state convention, which will be attended by two Republican Presidential hopefuls and five Governors, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The convention begins tonight at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa with a banquet featuring Schwarzenegger, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Two other governors, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and John Huntsman Jr. of Utah, are scheduled to attend tomorrow night’s banquet. Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona is to speak Saturday and another candidate, Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, is to appear Sunday. Party leaders are also trying to lure former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who formally declared his candidacy yesterday, said state GOP communications director Hector Barajas. About 1,200 delegates are expected to attend the convention, he said. Barajas said GOP leaders chose to hold this year’s convention in the Coachella Valley because of its large voter base and potential donors. “It’s one of the fastest-growing areas in California and many of our donors live there,” Barajas said. “Plus, it’s a beautiful location.” Moderate and conservative Republicans are expected to battle over planks of the state party platform, including on gay rights, gun control and abortion. Schwarzenegger wants the state party’s statement of core values boiled down to as little as a single page focusing on lowering taxes, limiting the size of government and building a strong national defense. But in a sign of internal differences, a platform draft being circulated by state GOP Chairman Ron Nehring goes well beyond the trimmed-down framework Schwarzenegger is suggesting. The current state platform runs about a dozen pages. The disagreement over the platform is emblematic of the fissure between the governor and the state Republican Party, whose conservative activists have lambasted him for the legislation he signed last year that curbs greenhouse gas emissions and who have derided his proposal to make healthcare available to all Californians as “socialized medicine.” “He doesn’t agree with the vast majority of Republicans on most issues,” Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, which works to elect conservatives, told the Los Angeles Times. “I imagine the gathering will not be a particularly happy one,” Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, added in comments reported by The Times. Party leaders will begin debating the platform tomorrow and delegates will vote on Sunday, Barajas said. Tickets to individual events can be purchased at the door. Tickets for Sunday’s prayer breakfast are $60, with VIP receptions costing $150.

KESQ News Team

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