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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Ted Kennedy forever linked through immigration reform




Sen. Ted Kennedy was a man of many legislative pursuits and in 2007, he put his storied ability to reach across the aisle on display with immigration reform. Joining him in celebration on May 17 was Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who helped craft the bill to offer legal status to 12 million illegal immigrants while improving border security.

But a month later, the deal had fallen apart. Martinez's political career also stumbled. Bludgeoned by his own Republican Party for supporting what many saw as leniency toward illegal immigrants, his approval ratings tanked.

Upon news of Kennedy's death, Martinez had this to say: "I am deeply saddened by my colleague's death. Ted was an icon of passionate public service and gave selflessly to our nation. I came to know him well through our work on immigration reform where he was a tough negotiator, and someone who knew how to reach bipartisan agreement for the good of an issue.

"He will be remembered as the Lion of the Senate for his voice, his style, his work, and his allegiance to always do what he thought was best for our country. Kitty and I offer our condolences and Senator Kennedy's family is in our thoughts and prayers."

Martinez, who recently announced he would leave office 16 months early, will officially end his service in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 9 (Photos: Getty Images)


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:15pm]


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