Maureen O'Reilly beams with pride as she shows a visitor around Grafton, N.H., a town so small it doesn't even have a traffic light.
"Have a look at this," O'Reilly says, pointing to a postcard view of hilly rural New England. "How beautiful is this? It's really pretty in the fall, really, really pretty."
But behind the beautiful view, locals are dividing into opposing camps. About 50 Libertarians have moved into Grafton from around the country, splitting the town over their push to shrink its government.
Start with a big ballroom at a resort hotel just outside D.C. Add thousands of conservative activists. Stir in hundreds of political journalists, and you've got an irresistible attraction for any Republican presidential hopeful.
For those with their eye on the Oval Office, it's also an early audition before a key audience.
It's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — where there's always talk of the next presidential election. This year as many as 10 possible 2016 candidates were invited to speak during the three-day event.
If any two issues illustrate how difficult it could be for the part of the Republican Party represented by the social and national security conservatives to bridge their differences with libertarians, same-sex marriage and National Security Agency intelligence are good candidates
Discussions at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference got testy Friday, when libertarians defended positions out of synch with the more traditional stances that have defined the Republican Party for decades.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., faces reporters at the Capitol after bipartisan Senate opposition blocked swift confirmation for President Barack Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights division on March 5.
The Senate majority leader is under steady attack from Republicans for calling the Koch brothers, billionaire funders of conservative causes, "un-American." His Senate colleagues across the aisle criticize his stewardship in unusually sharp terms.
Recognizing a rich vein, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie took on the Nevada Democrat on Thursday during his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference.