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Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee added to Sunshine Summit

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Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have signed on to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit in Orlando this November.

The party made the announcement in a Thursday press release.

Trump, the real estate tycoon and reality show star, still leads his competitors in the polls, with 25.5 percent in the Huffington Post average of national opinion surveys. Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News talk show host, is at 2.3 percent.

“I am excited to welcome Mr. Trump and Gov. Huckabee to the growing list of presidential candidates speaking at the Summit,” state party chairman Blaise Ingoglia said. “The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to hear the candidates share their vision for the future of our nation.”

Earlier this week, the state GOP said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had confirmed their attendance.

The summit is described as a “unique event where candidates will share their vision for the future of our nation with the more than 2,500 expected activists and grassroots leaders in one of the most influential primary and general election swing states.”

RPOF spokesman Wadi Gaitan said the party will announce still more participating candidates by week’s end.

The other candidates currently polling in double digits besides Trump – pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – are not on the announced list of attending candidates. 

The party previously OK’d a plan for candidates running in the state’s presidential preference primary that doesn’t require them to attend the event.

The state’s GOP executive committee last week adopted a rule that gives candidates options to get on the ballot, including getting at least 125 signatures in each of the 27 congressional districts or paying $25,000 as a qualifying fee.

Candidates still may get on the ballot if they attend the summit, however.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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