The Fight to Right Washington: Conservatives Rally -- and Worry 

By Jane Hwang and Mark Silva - 2014-03-08T00:58:25Z

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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Straight-Shootin' Sons of a Gun

For a party that hasn't sent a new nominee to the White House since 2000, annual gatherings of the American Conservative Union lately have become as much about winning as about principle. The ACU's Conservative Political Action Conference -- at National Harbor outside of Washington, D.C., March 6-8, celebrating the organization's 50th anniversary -- drew several Republicans testing their prospects for a 2016 presidential campaign and thousands of observers taking the measure of the field. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma holds the gun given to him by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.