ATLANTA (AP) -- Republicans can't seem to settle on an official party line this election year about the old Washington custom of using the federal budget to benefit the folks back home.
It's another sign of the split between the tea party and the establishment.
Challengers want to make U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Senate hopeful Jack Kingston in Georgia the faces of a $17 trillion national debt.
Each serves on the congressional Appropriations committees.
That leaves the Capitol Hill veterans to defend their conservative credentials while still arguing that their influence is a benefit to their states.
Some Republicans say it's a no-win situation as candidates balance the need to be fiscally conservative with voters' fondness for public projects and programs.
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