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Paul Ryan was chased by a protester waving a giant Bible and decrying libertarian author Ayn Rand on his way out of the Faith and Freedom Conference, a social conservative gathering in DC where he delivered a speech on his budget.

"Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?" the blond, 20-something male asked. He said he wanted to "present" Ryan with a Bible to teach him how to help the "most vulnerable."

Ryan talked to reporters briefly and signed autographs for fans, largely ignoring the protester.

The Congressman never mentioned Rand in his speech, who he has cited as a hero in the past, but did discuss his faith and its connection to American government.

"Our rights our not given to us from government, our rights are given to us naturally, given by God," he said, adding that "applying these principles" is what keeps America from entering decline each generation.

Ralph Reed just kicked off the Faith and Freedom Conference in DC with a rousing speech that didn't mention this morning's job numbers or much about the economy at all.

Such is the stuff of FFC, where the focus is on faith and social conservatism. Reed called the event an "NFL mini-camp" for conservatives, where the focus will be on boosting turnout among the social right. Reed pushed breakout sessions focused on reaching out to "non-traditional conservatives" in the Latino, Asian American, African American and Indian American communities.

It will be the faith community, Reed said, that will seal the fate of President Obama and the Democrats next fall.

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Lawmakers on Thursday offered two competing amendments to a bill addressing the anonymous flow of taxpayer money to third party political groups. One would have required disclosure of such donations, the other would ban the government from doing anything to shed any light on the financial flows.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) said her amendment, which was ruled out of order, would "require that anyone that receives an appropriation, a contract, doing business with the federal government produce full disclosure relative to political expenditures." She said it would eliminate "a dark corner of our system that is not being addressed."

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Seeking to head off a growing revolt in the GOP against America's involvement in Libya, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is offering a resolution demanding the White House not deploy ground troops in the country.

The resolution states that President Obama "has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya" and requests detailed information from the White House on the mission.The legislation is intended to head off more aggressively worded resolutions by lawmakers like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), which demand a withdrawal of US forces.

Kucinich's resolution was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, but House leaders pulled it at the last second when they became concerned it had enough Republican votes to pass. Boehner told reporters on Thursday that rank and file Republicans were concerned not only with the Libya conflict, but Afghanistan and Iraq as well.

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With all the talk of fiscal austerity and entitlement reform dominating these early months of the 2012 presidential cycle, it can be easy to forget that the Republican party is still the home to America's social conservatives. Though it may be on the backburner of the presidential race for the moment, the culture war is alive and well in many Republican circles.

This weekend it gets its due. Nearly all the men and women running for the Republican presidential nomination and a good portion of the party's top leadership will be on hand for the Faith And Freedom Conference, a social conservative confab organized by former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.

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House Democrats emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama confident that the GOP Medicare plan has Republicans on the ropes and more determined than ever to ensure that tax increases on the wealthiest Americans are included in any long-term debt-reduction package.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the meeting was "very productive" and a "great exchange of ideas."

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