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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bush, Martinez meet in the Oval Office



Mel Martinez sat beside the President in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon as Florida's junior senator was introduced as Bush's choice to lead the Republican National Committee.

President Bush spoke glowingly about his friend and former Cabinet member as news photographers captured the moment. Martinez smiled and held his hands in his lap while his chief of staff John Little and statewide director Matthew Hunter stood across the room with White House staffers including Karl Rove.

"Mel Martinez represents what I believe our party stands for, and that is his parents put him on a plane to come to the United States from Cuba because they love freedom. That was Mel's first taste for the beauty of liberty and freedom,'' Bush said. "And he worked hard, started with little, and ended up being here, the United States senator from Florida, and the honorary chairman of our party. He's going to be an excellent spokesman for the Republican Party."

Afterward in the driveway of the White House, Martinez spoke to reporters about the job ahead of him and how he made it clear to Bush that he would not let his job as senator suffer while taking on the added RNC duties.

Martinez talked of promoting the party while not being an attack dog (like Howard Dean?) and insisted he would not favor one GOP candidate over another in the 2008 presidential election.

We in Florida have seen Martinez campaign frequently with his friend and pesidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, (who quickly issued a press release praising Martinez' new job) but Martinez said those days are over.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:40am]


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