LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The latest from an economic conference in Florida where some of the leading Republican presidential candidates and likely candidates spoke Tuesday:
4 p.m. (EDT)
Jeb Bush says those who criticize the government’s surveillance powers are going to wish they were in place if the U.S. is attacked again.
The former Florida governor says he’s troubled that Congress let provisions of a post 9/11 surveillance program lapse. At least for now, he says, the country has given up necessary safeguards because of what he calls a false scenario from the left and from some Republicans that civil liberties are being violated.
As he put it: “The simple fact is, we’re safer today because of the Patriot Act.”
Bush was the last speaker at a gathering of Republican presidential hopefuls at Disney World in Florida.
Later, Congress sent legislation to President Barack Obama reviving but reshaping surveillance powers.
The once-secret National Security Agency bulk phone-records collection program is to be phased out over six months. It’s to be replaced by a program that keeps the records with phone companies but allows the government to search them with a warrant.
2:15 p.m. (EDT)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says there are not enough local, county, state and federal law enforcement officers to deport all the immigrants who are in the country illegally.
He says they’re not going to deport themselves, and people who want to get over, under or around a fence will always find the will and spirit to do so.
The 2016 Republican presidential prospect says a new approach is needed, and he proposes making it mandatory that employers use the E-Verify system to determine whether potential employees can legally work.
He’s at a Republican economic conference in Florida attended by a half dozen GOP White House hopefuls.
12:15 p.m. (EDT)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is backing off comments that he might not compete in the Florida primary should he run for the Republican presidential nomination.
He says the next president will need to carry Florida in the general election, so primary candidates need to spend time in the state.
Walker says his comments to radio host Laura Ingraham last week that he could play in every state “other than maybe Florida” were simply a recognition that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio will have a competitive advantage in the state. Rubio is a Florida senator and Bush was once governor.
Republican presidential hopefuls are in Orlando addressing an economic conference organized by Gov. Rick Scott. After his remarks, Walker said: “If I didn’t think I could compete, I wouldn’t be here today.”
He says he’s made four trips to Florida and plans to spend much time in the state if he enters the nomination race, which he’s expected to do this summer.
11 a.m. (EDT)
What’s the most important issue the next president will face?
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says it’s not education, health care, national defense or border security; it’s the economy.
The GOP presidential prospect tells Florida Republicans gathered at Disney World that the next president must create a powerful economic environment before anything else.
He says: “Get that right first.”
Perry is expected to launch his second presidential bid later in the week.
Perry’s economic record in Texas is the centerpiece of his rationale for running.
10:30 a.m. (EDT)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wants Florida business leaders to know there’s another Floridian running for president, not just former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
It’s Huckabee himself.
Huckabee now lives in Santa Rosa Beach in the Florida Panhandle, a point he made clear at a Republican economic conference.
He says he’s like a lot of other people in America — “now a Floridian.”
Huckabee moved to Florida five years ago.
He’s among a half dozen Republican presidential prospects addressing a Disney World gathering hosted by Gov. Rick Scott.
Huckabee talked about his proposal to replace the current tax code with a so-called fair tax. He calls the Internal Revenue Service “the biggest bully in America” and an “incredible monstrous rogue agency.”
9:50 a.m. (EDT)
The race for the White House in 2016 is between the old and the new.
So says Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. His message to a Republican economic gathering in Florida is that “outdated leaders” are clinging to “outdated ideas” in a nation that is transforming and needs new policies and people in charge.
He’s the first of the Republican presidential prospects featured at the Disney World event hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Rubio was a late scratch to the live program because of a Senate conflict in Washington.
But in a video message, he offered a heavy helping of indirect criticism at longtime political leaders like Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.
Bush is set to address the gathering later in the day.
Rubio says that while the economy is changing, policies and leaders are not.
He says it’s time for a new generation of leaders. At age 44, he certainly considers himself part of that generation.
9:18 a.m. (EDT)
Republicans are gathering at Disney World where a half dozen GOP presidential candidates are set to address an “economic summit” organized by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
The Tuesday forum was supposed to be the first event where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would share a stage in the state this year.
But Rubio was forced to cancel his in-person appearance late Monday night, due to business in Washington. He’ll instead address the meeting in a recorded video message.
Bush headlines the program that also features Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Florida’s primary is a winner-take-all contest, and Bush and Rubio are the favorites. But other Republicans are not likely to ignore Florida, because as the nation’s largest swing state, it remains a key to winning the general election.
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