Race for leadership of UK opposition Conservative Party - two more candidates

Two more candidates were poised to join race for leadership of Britain's opposition Conservative Party on Thursday, including the presumed front-runner.

At least five candidates in the chase hope to revive a party which has lost three straight national elections, and gone through three leaders since 1997.

David Davis, 57, the party's spokesman on law and order issues, is widely regarded as the leader in the race. He planned to launch his "manifesto for modern Conservatism" with a morning speech.

David Cameron, 38, the party's education spokesman, planned to kick off his campaign an hour later.

Davis' main opponent, however, appears to be former Treasury chief Kenneth Clarke, 65, the best known of the candidates.

Also in the race are former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, 59, and health spokesman Liam Fox, 43.

The party's current leader, Michael Howard, announced he was quitting in May, immediately after the party lost for a third time to Tony Blair's Labour Party.

Although the Tories did win the 1992 election under John Major, the party has struggled ever since Margaret Thatcher's 11-year run in power ended in 1990.

The Conservatives will hold their annual conference next week, but the leadership race may not be decided until December.

Blair professed to be unconcerned about the outcome of the Tory race, informs the AP. I.L.

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