DORAL (CBS4) – At the Hispanic Leadership Conference in Doral, a group watched closely as the Republican candidates battled it on stage at the debate in Jacksonville.

While the group doesn’t seem to endorse any one candidate, the cheering was considerably louder when Newt Gingrich walked onto the stage.

Before the debate, Former Florida governor Jeb Bush spoke to the crowd, and we asked him why he wasn’t willing to endorse a candidate.

“I think first of all, candidates need to earn it. Not that my endorsement would be the end-all-be-all, but I think it’s appropriate for them to work hard and earn the support. They’ll learn a lot by being down here, as they already have,” said Gov. Bush.

Meanwhile, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen talked about what she called misconceptions about Hispanic voters.

“Yes, immigration is an important topic, no doubt. But we care about the family structure, and we care about small business, and we care about jobs,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

Gov. Bush said Hispanics in Florida are always in search of success.

“And they do it in a way that makes Miami perhaps the most dynamic city in the United States. I’ve seen when you embrace diversity, and you embrace dynamism what happens,” said Gov. Bush.

But can the candidates convince Hispanic voters that they understand them?

“I think they need to show that they connect with the street, that they get it, that they have chemistry, and that they can beat Barack Obama, that they can brawl, that they can fight, that they have passion, that they have energy, that they can energize the base, and at the same time, hold Obama’s feet to the fire,” said Republican Strategist Ana Navarro.

On Friday, front runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney will both speak at the conference.


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