Perry says economy is top concern at GOP economic conference in Florida

By The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The latest from an economic conference in Florida where some of the leading Republican presidential candidates and likely candidates are speaking Tuesday:

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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.

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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.”

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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 His message to a Republican economic gathering in Florida is that “outdated leaders” are clinging to “outdated ideas” in a nation that is transforming and needs new policies and people in charge.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.

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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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