Raleigh hosts North Carolina GOP Convention this weekend

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- GOP heavyweights are hoping to score a home run with voters in 2016 as Republicans take a swing at North Carolina.

Nearly 2,000 people are gathering at the Raleigh Convention Center this weekend for the state's largest GOP Convention.

The three-day event includes hundreds of delegates and the state's top Republican leaders.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke Friday night to a crowded room. He has yet to announce his candidacy for president, but political insiders believe he is taking steps to cement a spot among the growing field of Republican contenders.

"We need to have a reform-minded Republican president who's willing to stand up and do what it takes to make this country great again," said Walker.

North Carolina is set to hold an early primary this year, and politicians are already making their pitch.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz met with Republican women Friday afternoon, marking his second visit to Raleigh since announcing his candidacy in March.

"I'm thrilled to be here in North Carolina," said Cruz. "It's going to play an important role in selecting the Republican nominee in the next President of the United States, and I tell you the support, the enthusiasm that we're seeing here on the ground in North Carolina is incredible."

Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr both are on the ballot next year, and they'll seek to energize their Republican base heading into 2016 at the North Carolina GOP convention.

Burr and McCrory were scheduled to address the biennial convention Saturday in downtown Raleigh. The governor was slotted to give the keynote address Saturday afternoon. Burr is leading a morning tribute to retired U.S. Rep. Howard Coble.

Party business Saturday also includes picking a successor to Chairman Claude Pope. Craig Collins of Gastonia has endorsements from McCrory, Burr, Sen. Thom Tillis and top legislative leaders.

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz was slated to speak at lunch and Donald Trump - who's considering a White House run - was on tap for dinner.

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