By STEVE PEOPLES AND KEN THOMAS, The ASSOCIATED PRESS
OXON HILL, Md. -- The Republican Party's 2012 presidential ticket is returning to the national stage as thousands of conservative activists gather outside Washington to examine the GOP's future.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday afternoon, the second day of a three-day conservative summit. It's the first time he'll deliver public remarks since his concession speech last November.
But at a conference focused on the next generation of conservative leaders, Romney's 2012 running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, is scheduled to speak first. He's expected to discuss his recently released budget blueprint.
Friday's program also features reality television star Donald Trump, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The gathering comes as Republicans work to recover from a painful 2012 election season.
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