Martinez: Time for some details, boys
Making the rounds at tonight's CNN/YouTube Republican debate in St. Petersburg, U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez said he was hoping the candidates would get off the sound bytes and get down to specifics. Noting that 3-million Floridians live without health insurance, he said he was particularly hopeful they'd start telling voters how they aimed to improve access to health care.
"It's time to begin to offer the American people solutions," he said at the Mahaffey Theater before the 8 p.m. debate. "I think the American people are hungry for solutions...
"On a campaign, you can go for a long time on a few words and sound bytes. At some point you have to offer solutions, and I think we're at that point."
Polls have shown former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani consistently ahead. But as to whether that would hold through the Jan. 29 primary, Martinez said, "I'm not sure, I think this race will close in Florida dramatically."
Can lose someone Iowa and New Hampshire and win Florida and move on to win? Giuliani is trailing in both. "I think it's possible, because it's so compressed," the senator said. "Florida is such a large and diverse state you have to be in Florida and campaign in Florida more than elsewhere. So this is a state where you could pull that off."
Martinez also allowed that Democratic candidates for president are handing the Republicans a gift by boycotting the state because of its early primary date. "This is a big state. You don't become known in this state overnight," he said. "It takes awhile."
-- Wes Allison and Jennifer Liberto