- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

An umbrella group that includes some of the nation’s leading conservative power brokers is reportedly planning to hold two meetings in Northern Virginia in the coming months to vet 2016 presidential prospects and try to coalesce around a single candidate of choice for conservatives.

The Council for National Policy is inviting major Republican candidates to a two-day summit May 15-16 at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner where the candidates will have an opportunity to address the group, National Journal reported Wednesday.

The group is led by Tony Perkins — the president of the Family Research Council, one of the highest-profile social conservative organizations in the country — and plans to reconvene in Tysons Corner later in the year to start winnowing down the presidential field, according to the report.

Republicans who have recently been hosted by the group reportedly include Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who announced his presidential bid last month, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Some conservatives were less than enthused about the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, as well as the party’s 2012 nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Some have also cast a wary eye on potential 2016 candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who hails from a blue state.

According to the report, CNP is officially organized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit group and so it cannot officially endorse any candidate for office. But a concerted, if unofficial, push around a single candidate or against a so-called “establishment” favorite could have significant consequences as the Republican nominating process gets under way.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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