ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – The stage is being set in Orlando for a who’s who Republican presidential hopefuls.
The Sunshine Summit will host all 13 major candidates. The front runners get the stage Friday. The rest will go Saturday.
Earlier Thursday night, they kicked things off with a private event headlining former Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Cheney actually came out to the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars. For Republicans, the next two days are meant to be fun, informative, and motivate.
“We are starting early because we have to,” said Blaise Ingoglia, who is the Republican Party of Florida’s chairman.
Typically this time of year we are seeing a Republican debate in Florida, but this year was different.
Florida’s debate is set for March 10th, just days before the Republicans primary – March 15th.
Ingoglia decided this summit would make Florida relevant, now.
“You received a lot of criticism for this event. People didn’t believe you could do it. Do you sit back today and say ha we did it?” CBS4’s David Sutta asked him.
“No I don’t think like that. We have a vision at the party. We know what we have to do to win. But we also have the resolve to make sure we are doing those things,” Ingoglia replied.
With state and national media covering the event, the Republican Party is hoping to motivate voters. To improve upon mistakes of the past.
“You have to have the activists. You have to have the grassroots involved,” said Ingoglia, “What we’ve seen through the years is that money puts you in the position to win elections but it’s the grassroots, knocking on doors, making phone calls, it’s bringing the people to the polls on election day. That’s what’s winning the close elections.
Attendees paid between $200 and $1000 for a ticket to the event at Disney’s Contemporary hotel. The expensive tickets include a dinner with Cheney and Rubio.
Thursday’s event was closed to television cameras, but that won’t be the case on Friday.
Republicans will have an opportunity to tell Floridians why they should get your vote.
There is one thing to expect Friday that was unexpected. Really tight security.
CBS4 had to report outside the summit Thursday because the Secret Service was sweeping the building.
The extra security is for frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, or as the Secret Service refers to them by code names… Mogul and Eli.
Click here to read more about Campaign 2016.