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Brownback to launch presidential bid this month

WASHINGTON _Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas will formally kick off his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination Jan. 20 in his home state.

The announcement, in the state capital of Topeka, where Brownback lives, will come about six weeks after he formed his presidential exploratory committee. His campaign headquarters are expected to be in the Kansas City area.

Brownback's speech, which is still being written, will "be much more inclusive than just a conservative set of issues" and will hit on the main themes of his campaign, said Rob Wasinger, the senator's campaign manager.

"The things that people talk about are not the only things he's working on," Wasinger said. "He'll talk about religious freedom, taking care of the poor, challenging people to rise up and confront the challenges we face."

Brownback supporters, Republican Party activists and Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation will be among those invited to the kickoff.

Brownback, a 50-year-old father of five, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1994 and to the Senate in 1996 to fill the term of retiring Sen. Bob Dole. He was re-elected easily to full terms in 1998 and 2004.

Though little-known to the general public outside Kansas, Brownback is a hero to the religious conservatives who make up the base of the Republican Party.

He has been a staunch opponent of gay marriage, abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research. He routinely infuses his speeches with the tenets of his devout Roman Catholic faith. He also is a leading congressional advocate of international human rights.

Brownback hopes to stake out a position as the true fiscal and social conservative in the crowded Republican field. While he's a long shot against presumed front-runners such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he has clear appeal to conservatives, who distrust all three.

Romney has been particularly active in wooing religious conservatives, but he has been hurt by charges of flip-flopping on abortion rights and gay rights as he moved right for a presidential run.

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(c) 2007, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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