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Hundreds gather for Conservative Leadership Conference

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RALEIGH -- The Tarheel state turned red in the 2012 general election putting it in the forefront for battleground states.

With ideas such as cutting the income tax, Conservative leaders say the state is an example the rest of the country should follow.

"If you want a strong middle class that's how you build it, by building the private productive sector. One of the ways of doing that is by lowering the tax burden," said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

But the GOP is experiencing another shade of red. It's taken heat from President Obama and Democratic leaders who blame the party for the sequester.

"I can't believe that our country would let this kind of damage occur without rising to the challenge," said Democratic Representative David Price.

Hundreds of Conservative activists gathered Saturday in Raleigh at the Civitas Institute's Conservative Leadership Conference where they fought back those claims.

"It's really up to President Obama in Congress. We want to give him maximum flexibility so he can manage this effectively, but he keeps turning us down. It doesn't seem like he wants that flexibility," Senator Johnson added.

The sequester's cuts to the military are expected to have significant impacts here in North Carolina, which is home to several of the largest bases in the country: Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.

Representative Renee Ellmers says the cuts should be felt elsewhere.

"We have got to cut spending in Washington, as painful as it will be. We have got to get this debt under control, and I think American families understand that," she said.

By exchanging ideas during the span of two days, leaders hope to send their message of Conservative values in hopes of enacting change in policies both in the state and in Washington. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP