Top Ohio Republicans face down intraparty critics

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Updated: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 12:15:44 EST

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Conservative restlessness within their own party poses challenges to three Republican stars in the political battleground state of Ohio.

Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) has riled conservatives by embracing Medicaid expansion and some tax proposals, while House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nuhr) is clashing with conservative groups over the federal budget. Sen. Rob Portman faces backlash from social conservatives over his about-face in favor of gay marriage.

Whether the trio can hold Republicans together has larger political implications, given Ohio's role as a swing state and the three men's own national profiles. Kasich and Portman have been floated as presidential-ticket contenders, while Boehner seeks to hang onto one of Washington's most powerful jobs.

Democrats say the trio's move to the middle is in rhetoric, not actions.

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