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Rubio, Paul address conservatives

OXON HILL, Md. -- Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul argued for lower taxes Thursday as they presented distinctly different styles in wooing their party's base before possible 2016 presidential bids.

"For liberty to expand, government must shrink," Paul, who represents Kentucky, said to applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "For the economy to grow, government must get out of the way."

Rubio, who like Paul is a favorite of the anti-tax tea party movement, told the audience at the conference just outside Washington that mutual respect is required in U.S. politics, if there is to be compromise.

"Just because I believe that states have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot," the Floridian said. "The people who are actually closed-minded in American politics are the people who love to preach about the certainty of science with regards to our climate, but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception."

Along with offering a potential preview of the 2016 Republican presidential contest, the gathering provided a forum for one of the party's failed 2012 White House aspirants to settle some scores.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry slammed President Barack Obama's leadership and implicitly criticized some of his party's most prominent members. He argued that the party hadn't fielded "conservative" candidates either in 2012, when Mitt Romney bested him for the nomination, or 2008, when the standard-bearer was Arizona Sen. John McCain. CPAC members applauded the line.

Rubio, although he's viewed as a Republican leader in the push to revise immigration policy, made no significant mention of the issue. -- Bloomberg News

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