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HELENA - Montana Republicans will gather in Missoula this week to write a party platform, elect national convention delegates and, perhaps most importantly, set their fall election strategy.

Party officials will put on training sessions for candidates and volunteers at the convention, which runs from late Thursday morning through midday Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn. About 400 people have signed up to attend.

"It will be a good chance for Republicans to come together and map our plan for the fall," said state GOP Chairman Erik Iverson.

Speaking at Friday night's dinner will be Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who ran for president and finished second in Montana's Feb. 5 caucus, and former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns or another surrogate for the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.

Although McCain won't be at the convention, Iverson said he expects the presidential candidate to visit Montana later this summer or early this fall. Polls taken before the primary showed McCain leading his Democratic rival, Barack Obama.

For more information, read Thursday's Missoulian or go to Missoulian.com.

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