Conservatives Push Party Unity at Fundraiser

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A group of conservatives has gathered in Iowa to take punches at Congress but also acknowledge a need for the Republican Party to unify in 2014.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah says the Republican Party needs a conservative reform agenda that tackles critical issues like ending poverty and reducing the power of what he called special interest groups. He said the lack of an agenda is "a gaping hole" in the party.

Lee, who led the fight that brought on the 16-day partial government shutdown, spoke Saturday to hundreds of people at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's 13th annual banquet at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Other speakers included Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

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