By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At this hour in Minneapolis, three presumed presidential candidates are preparing to address the Minnesota Family Council in downtown Minneapolis.

Two of the candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michele Bachmann are speaking in person, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty will speak through video feed.

The presence of three candidates shows the influence of this group and the battle republican contenders will have for conservative votes.

The Minnesota Family Council website features the invitation to Tuesday’s gathering, followed by news of the Minnesota Senate passing the constitutional ban on gay marriage.

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In a week that has seen Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump announce they won’t run — the two Minnesota republicans who are still testing the waters, Pawlenty and Bachmann, find themselves with a great opportunity. Humphrey Institute Professor Larry Jacobs said the timing is right.

“This is the time when Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, if they are going to make their move, have to do it,” he said.

Both Bachmann and Pawlenty will deliver speeches to the Minnesota Family Council’s annual dinner at the Minneapolis Hilton. Gingrich is also speaking and hoping to lure conservative voters with a presidential bid.

Gingrich is hoping to appeal to Minnesota conservatives — but despite his conservative political credentials, Gingrich has to overcome his personal history of two divorces, and an affair with the woman who he later married — his current wife Calista.

“So while Gingrich has locked down conservative support, a lot of the folks who follow presidential politics have doubts as to whether he is going to be able to sustain his campaign in light of what is set to be a withering set of criticisms of him,” Jacobs said.

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The first contest of the 2012 season, the Iowa caucuses, are a little more than nine months away.

Esme Murphy