In an election season driven by economic worries, Republican leaders are trying to keep Christian conservatives excited and involved by blurring the line between religious/social issues and low-tax crusades — a divide that has helped shape past GOP primaries.

Failure to do so could potentially depress turnout by an important part of the Republican base. Not only are fiscal issues dominating the debate, but social and Christian conservatives have no obvious candidate to turn to, as they did in 2008 when Baptist minister Mike Huckabee ran.

Facing this vacuum, a host of presidential hopefuls are emphasizing their religious faith and opposition to abortion and gay marriage, even though most are better known as business-like managers of state governments and private companies.

Their efforts were on display Friday at a Washington gathering of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group whose name summarizes the bid to combine religious and libertarian priorities.

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