Republicans Flock to Florida - 5 Takeaways

Rick Scott gathers all the 2016 contenders in Orlando

ORLANDO, Florida— -- Seven major Republican presidential candidates took the stage today in a conference center at Disney World -- separately -- to talk about their plans for the U.S. economy.

A few things became clear:

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, taking the stage later, offered some equally harsh words.

"If you don't talk about the 71 percent [of the federal budget spent on entitlements] in my view, you have no right to talk about the other 29 percent," Christie said. Of politicians who say it's not a problem that needs addressing, Christie said, "They're not telling you the truth."

The field has a legitimate policy debate over this, and it's heating up.

2) Scott wants everyone to campaign in Florida

A theme for Scott at his summit was that he wants all candidates to campaign here.

Scott told ABC at the summit that none of the candidates have told him they won't compete in his state. The governor said he hopes all candidates campaign in Florida and that he believes the candidate with the best economic plans will win.

Of course, the presence of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio--Florida's former governor and sitting senator, respectively--in the 2016 race might make other candidates think twice. Florida carries 29 delegates into 2016, the third largest total of any state, but it will award them on a winner-take-all basis, meaning a 2016 contender would get no points for taking second place there. Plus, it's an expensive state in which to campaign.

3) Candidates push back on the notion that they won't campaign here

“If I didn’t think I could compete, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t have made four trips to Florida," Walker said.

And Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, seemingly averse to talking campaign strategy, refused to be pinned down, saying he'll "have to see how candidates fall in and out."

Declining to break down how much time he'd spend in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada, Huckabee added, "I don't even know who my opponents are."

4) GOPers seem to know they have to make up ground with minorities

"If you want to send the message to those communities [that] we care about you, we care about the future of your children, it’s graduate them from high school," Rick Perry said.

"My message is not going to vary by group," Walker told reporters after his speech.

5) Rand Paul vs. the GOP -- it's still a thing

And we saw two different approaches to the question.

In an apparent swipe at Paul, Christie bemoaned the demonization of compromise in Washington: "“We see that right now, people standing up blocking things, giving endless speeches, being self-important, not really in the business of governing."

Bush, who has backed extending the Patriot Act in full, told reporters, “I don’t ascribe any bad motives to the guy, I just think he’s wrong about it," declining to make the conversation about Paul and pointing to Democrats who also opposed extending NSA surveillance authorities.