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Cruz, Paul Speaking To Iowa Religious Leaders In Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Two Republican senators are visiting Des Moines to court Iowa's evangelical pastors a group that could wield powerful influence over the outcome of the state's 2016 GOP presidential caucuses.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz privately addressed the gathering assembled by the conservative American Renewal Project at a downtown hotel Friday morning. Also scheduled to appear around mid-day was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the son of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Both are conservatives favored by the tea party wing of the GOP.

After his speech, Cruz called pastors "critical leaders."

It's Cruz's first trip to Iowa. He also was scheduled to headline a state Republican fundraiser at lunchtime.

Paul, who visited Iowa in the spring, was also set to meet with Latino and African-American ministers.