Kemp, GOP presidential hopefuls talk future of party in Buckhead

The race for the White House is about to kick into overdrive. Several Republican candidates made a pit stop in the Peach State on Friday ahead of the first GOP debate next week.

"I am living proof that the American dream is alive and is well," said Republican Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina.

"We will know what to do and who to do it with on day one, and we will turn this country around," said former Vice President Mike Pence.

"We’ve got to do more here in the United States because our national security really is at risk," said Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

The stop in Buckhead is for conservative radio host Erick Erickson’s annual conservative conference. Several big names turned out for a one-on-one conversation with the host, including Scott, Pence, and DeSantis.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has not announced plans to run, but helped Erickson make the gathering happen.

"The road to the White House is running through Georgia, if we don’t win the state, we are not the one in the White House, and I thought it was important to be able to get our presidential candidates to Georgia, to let them talk to our people," he said.

Erickson didn’t let this week’s Fulton County indictment of Republican frontrunner former President Donald Trump overshadow this gathering. Voters who turned out for the event say their focus is not on the charges. They say they are here to hear the candidates beyond just soundbites.

"They’re being pressed on issues, and I want to hear them. I want to hear how they speak. I want to sort of feel the genuine nature of what they say," said Peter Lauer. 

"I love the whole scope of the topic, which isn’t to hear from the presidential candidates," said Marsha Mayoue. "To argue with one another is to give everyone a platform to speak in paragraphs."

The topics were wide-ranging including domestic and foreign policy. 

The Georgia Democratic Party released a statement calling out the event for sharing their "out of touch agenda."