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Possible 2016 presidential candidates to attend Republican conference

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is pictured questioning Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan during a Senate Intelligence Committee
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is pictured questioning Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan during a Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two senators seen as possible candidates for the 2016 presidential election will address a conservative conference where Republicans will try to regroup on Thursday after their bruising election loss last year.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Organized by the American Conservative Union, the annual meeting is a showcase for the party's election hopefuls.

Rubio's Hispanic credentials have raised his profile in a party looking to win over Latino voters after they overwhelmingly backed President Barack Obama instead of Republican Mitt Romney in November.

Paul, the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, won admirers by talking on the Senate floor for almost 13 hours last week, a procedure known as a filibuster, to raise questions about the Obama administration's ground rules for using drones in the United States.

Coverage of this year's conference has also focused on who will not attend.

New Jersey's Chris Christie, the Republican governor of a blue state who holds one of the highest approval ratings in the country, was not invited.

Christie upset some Republicans by praising Obama's handling of the effects of Superstorm Sandy last year just before the election.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell went to the conference the last two years, but will not attend this year. He ruffled Republicans' feathers by signing a transportation bill that included a tax hike.

On Friday, Romney will address the conference, making his first major public speech since the election.

(Reporting by Alistair Bell; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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