The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Republican Party

Exit Martinez From the RNC

Sen. Mel Martinez, who for ten months has been the public face of the GOP, has resigned his post at the Republican National Committee.

The Florida senator and former HUD secretary was the first Hispanic to chair the RNC. As general chairman, he worked with Mike Duncan, the chairman, who oversaw the RNC's daily operation. President Bush handpicked the relatively obscure Martinez in an effort to build on the historic inroads the Republican Party made in attracting Hispanic voters. In 2000, Bush captured 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. Four years later, it was 40 percent.

But last year's battle over a comprehensive immigration reform bill complicated matters for RNC and its Hispanic supporters. Martinez, a Cuban refugee, favored immigration reform, pitting him against the party's hardliners. Last month Martinez was yet in another uncomfortable position, explaining why the Republican presidential candidates -- excluding Sen. John McCain -- opted to skip the first bilingual presidential forum sponsored by Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the U.S., in Florida, home to an estimated 3 million Hispanics.

Martinez told The Post: "I was hoping that there would be good participation in the Univision forum," Martinez said. "It's a very busy primary calendar, and their schedules are such that this forum didn't fit in. Now is this a rejection of Hispanic voters? Of course not. And I hope it's not seen that way."

In a statement on the RNC's Web site, Martinez said: "It has been my privilege to serve President Bush, and work with Chairman Duncan and the members of the Republican National Committee. I believe that our future as a Party and nation is bright and I have every intention of continuing to fight for our President, our Party, and our candidates."

Martinez is up for reelection in 2010.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas

Posted at 2:54 PM ET on Oct 19, 2007  | Category:  Republican Party
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I have two comments.

1. When Mel M. was Secretary at HUD, I was detailed there from Labor for a couple of months. I was amused that the lobbies of the HUD building were filled with hanging poster sized photographs illustrating the work the agency did. Every single one of them prominently featured Mel M. What an ego!

2. I am always somewhat flabbergasted by the extreme virulence of the nativist crowd as evidenced by some of the posts here. I live in Arizona and much of the yard work, agriculture stoop labor, and heavy labor here is done by Hispanics. I have no idea if they are here legally or not and don't much care. I have these folks in my yard and my house all of the time and don't have the slightest qualm about it. They are the hardest working people I've ever seen. It amuses me that many of my neighbors share your views even though they also use Hispanics for most manual labor.

I would have severe qualms about having some of the posters here anywhere near my house. You are truly scary.

Posted by: joehines1 | October 22, 2007 5:47 PM

I don't know a thing about Mel Martinez other than his name, but I know that his party has been taken over by the crazies -- including those who want to jail or deport all illegal immigrants - leaving children without parents and jailing whole families.
I see this as the Republicans saying they are sick and tired of trying to accommodate Latinos.
I have no idea whether Martinez tried to get the candidates to show up at the Univison forum or not, but the fact that they didn't speaks volumes about the Republican Party and its candidates for the presidency and their views of Latinos, even legal ones, in the US.
The Republicans have been slowly but surely cutting themselves off from Americans -- the Latinos, the blacks, and the women. There just aren't enough white males to put them in charge anymore -- that is unless they steal the vote again.
The Republicans continue to slit their own throats with their snobbery.

Posted by: bghgh | October 20, 2007 9:38 PM

"Martinez was the worst Governor in the last 30 years in Florida."

Mel Martinez was never the governor of Florida. It was Bob Martinez. Get your history right. Secondly the biggest racist of them all Bettybb.

Posted by: gchraj | October 20, 2007 9:03 PM

Senator Martinez is an honorable and decent public official. He understands politics and knows that his views on issues such as immigration are debatable. But it reflects pretty badly on Washington Post commenters that they are unable to disagree with a political opinion without slandering the person they disagree with. Maybe if your commenters grew up enough to write respectfully, people might begin to respect their comments.

Posted by: dennis10 | October 20, 2007 7:16 PM

Thank goodness they got rid of that idiot Mel Martinez.

He was pushing a straight Neo Con, middle of the road Dem agenda; amnesty for illegals.

Rather than lose votes, I bet the GOP has a net gain of votes by not debating on Spanish TV and by upholding the American tradition of the rule of law.

There is very little support for these anti rule of law amnesty anarachy supporters. In NY, the Gov. is getting his fingers slapped with his plan to issue driver's llcenses.

This 20 year plus Dem who has walked presincts, phone banked and raised funds will be voting Repub this time around if the candidate is for strict enforcement inluding deportation of all illegals. And I am not alone among Dems.

Mel told Rudy and Mitt to tone it down on illegal immigration. That was a mistake, thoujgh both of them seem to be for amnesty with seal borders.

Mel pushed the amnesty agenda. They knew it was a loser. The polls said only 24 % of Americans agreed with it. On a subpoint in the plan, a majority agreed; they spun that in all the press to say the majority of Americans agreed with amnesty. Pure Bush style iles. They tried to ram it through without going through committee because they knew no one but dishonest business wanted it. They deserved what they got.

DIP (Democratic Illegal Party, formerly known as the Democratic Party) being solidly in the illegal camp may run into major problems with its normal sujpporters.

Unions have asked pointed questions about NAFTA from Hilliary who said, well jobs have been lost (they have) they coudl revist NAFTA once she is elected. Translation: I will look at it and say overall it it benefital so tough luck but don't want to say so before the election.

Illegals are hitting the working class really hard on the job front and the wage depression front. Yes DIP has raised the minimum wage, but that does not help if the illegal has the job is working under minimum wage.

And all middle class moms with kids are fed up with the decline in the schools, with is aided by overcrowding, migratory students who don't come prepared, non English speaking students, etc.

There is a huge opening for the Repubs if the are at least moderate on Iraq, tough on illegals and that means deportation, and fiscally conservative, no more borrow and spend, while not forcing their peculiar religious beliefs down others throats.

And Hispanic voters? The polls show 1/2 of American Hispanics are anti illegal alien amnesty.

Posted by: Bettybb | October 20, 2007 7:13 PM

Either the good Senator has a "public restroom or undisclosed outside income of a questionable nature" issue on the horizon, or most probably the RNC has written off any hope of attracting Hispanic voters (given the current Bush immigration fiasco) in lieu of the Evangelical Christian block that they're in such deep doo doo with right now. Look for a good 'ole Midwest Bible Thumper to come riding onto the scene accompanied by his bestest buddies - Fire and Brimstone. THAT should just about make the Religious Right wet their pants!

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | October 20, 2007 5:56 PM

Return of the "Nativist Movement", every fifty years or so this ugly stain on American honor is revived by demagogues playing on racism and fears of the second and third generations of immigrants themselves to turn on the most recent immigrants for temporary political gains and the power and money it brings. Simple grasping for material riches and the heck with national honor or service to the public. Nativist demogogues should pay attention to the Federalist immigration acts of the late 1700's when they seeked to pull up the ladder on the recent immigrants of their day. It was these imigrants and their children who swept Thomas Jefferson and the Democat-Republican Party into power and swept out the Federalist. The same fate awaits the current Republican party as it plays their racist "southern strategy" of Richard Nixon and the demogogue appeals to nativist with lies about latin immigration and latin immigrants.
The latino immigrant is enriching America and their hard work and sacrifice is earning the grudging respect of any American who works with them and depends on intelligent team workers to get work done in our work places around the country.

Posted by: tniederberger | October 20, 2007 5:28 PM

Martinez was the worst Governor in the last 30 years in Florida. You can see what we had to out up with. Even Jeb Bush was better than this anti-environment suck up to the criminal immigranmt industry. I was amazed that the GOP had such poor judgement as to pull him back out from under his wet rock. Hope this loser is gone for good this time. I will warn the Country that another loser of the same school is still trying to get back to Washington, that being Bill McCollum. He of the impeach Clinton infamy and the loss of our Naval training Center in Orlando. Watch out he is still on the public dole and wants a job any job in Washington. Unfortunately The Dem's are not one whit better on the invasion across the border.

Posted by: eelliott2 | October 20, 2007 4:59 PM

What it is most unfair about illegal immigration is that the Cubans, since the 50's all they have to do is put one toe in American soil in they become automatic residents. Mel Martinez and other Cuban Americans don't want to change that so all their Cuban compatriots can come to the U.S. without getting in line like all other people who want to immigrate to the U.S. Lately they are coming in the thousands by crossing the Mexican borders. Anybody else
who crosses the border, without the proper paper work gets returned to their homeland. The Cubans get their temporary visa within 72 hours.

I am not against LEGAL IMMIGRATION. I just don't think it's fair to have a system that
favors one country because of some obsolete
rule that took place almost half a century

Posted by: genuineone | October 20, 2007 3:03 PM

Too funny.

Karl Rove was dreaming of a permanent Republican majority, and nowadays they're bailing out like cockroaches when the light is switched on.

It'd be poetic justice were the Florida Senatorial delegation to go suddenly blue in '08 and Martinez have to search for a think-tank or a lobbying firm looking for yet another Republican failure.

Posted by: tonypinsacram | October 20, 2007 12:26 PM

"There are more angry white voters than Hispanics out there. The Republicans can't wait."

We shall see about that on November 6, 2008 here in Virginia. Please do come back and talk about it after the state elections are over.

Posted by: gchraj | October 20, 2007 11:27 AM

Martinez leaves because appealing to the base will only happen with more anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic demagoguery. The Republican party knows it. Martinez knows it. The press, particularly jingoistic xenophobes such as Dobbs and the Fox-lot, will help by rousing up the angry-white-guy closet voter. This constituency's vote along with the evangelical Christian vote will translate into success for the Republicans. There are more angry white voters than Hispanics out there. The Republicans can't wait.

Posted by: guitar_ocean_sound | October 20, 2007 11:00 AM

The Latino Community needs to clean up their act. The Latino Community needs to admit they are breaking the laws of the USA and direct their illegal members to return home and honor the Laws of America. Bush found out not to cross the America people with his sponsorship of Bush Kennedy Amnasty Bill.

I'm all for an expanded immigration bill that gives law biding people access to this country, but not rights of any kind until they are earned. You do not earn rights or respect by breaking OUR Laws!

Posted by: mlimberg | October 20, 2007 8:39 AM

Reaching out to the minorities is extremely important for the GOP. The template of the GOP should be the Party of inclusiveness;the outreach of RNC must be geared up in reaching
out to the American Muslim Community. It is not only a strategically political initiative but a potent mode of better understanding Islam in the United States of America.

Posted by: Golam | October 20, 2007 6:59 AM

It is very unfortunate to see the party I love and support end up alienating our nation's largest growing minority.
It amazes me that we can ourselves Christians and yet do not reflect our Christian values on our policies.
I feel shamed to call myself a Republican not because of President Bush but because he is the only beacon of hope and compassion in our party. The rest of the party is thinking more about getting elected and not about doing what is right for our country.
We are doing great harm to our public diplomacy abroad.

Posted by: msintel1 | October 20, 2007 4:40 AM

Martinez had it coming. And the immigration "reform" fiasco was the end of his political career.

He dragged the party into "comprehensive reform" double-talk when the party itself was not there. Bush started this mess by appointing him. Looking back, it doesn't take a Latino as RNC chair to engage that special constituency to attract support. Obviously Bush and he were on the same page, but they were the only pages in the book on this issue.

The reason his political career is over in Florida is that he has no chance of being re-elected, unless he changes his political party affiliation. His office was flooded with calls from Floridians, like myself, advising against the President's plan. It was an overwhelming majority of calls NOT in favor of the bill. For whatever reason he chose to ignore his constituents on this, his constituents will never forget how he thumbed his nose at them. It's over for him politically, as a republican anyway.

Posted by: ross | October 20, 2007 12:30 AM

im sure it was him that pushed for the shamisty bill. he got all the rep to sighn on that was a big mistake. all they had to do was enforce the border build the fence then go for reform it probably would have passed

Posted by: getsix1 | October 19, 2007 11:04 PM

Michael Steele? That loser?
Ha! You're just rearranging the deck chairs on the GOP Titanic.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | October 19, 2007 9:16 PM

What? Another cut n' runner from the Bush/cheney gang of thugs?

Personally, I think they should all leave the country to avoid prosecution.

Oh, that's right. Bush bought a 90 thousand acre bug out ranch in Venezuela. That should be big enough to hold the lot of them.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | October 19, 2007 9:07 PM

It's time to bring in Michael Steele. The GOP needs someone who can be an effective advocate for the conservative cause

Posted by: foutsc | October 19, 2007 8:19 PM

The GOP ship is sinking and the rats like Martinez are jumping off.

Posted by: Spectator2 | October 19, 2007 5:36 PM

This but licking illegal alien comrade is going and is good riddance. He says he, his President and the party has a bright future. I wonder where these idiots live, what TV news they watch and what newspapers they read.

Posted by: csekhar | October 19, 2007 5:08 PM

"Now is this a rejection of Hispanic voters? Of course not. And I hope it's not seen that way."

Damned right it was a rejection of Hispanic voters (except for those who are Protestant evangelicals) and you can bet your sweet bippy that it's being seen that way. Martinez KNOWS there's going to be pay-back and he doesn't want to get blamed for what he didn't cause. It's hard to scapegoat someone for something they didn't stick around long enough to be blamed for.

Should we start an office pool on which GOP Congressmen will be "retiring" or otherwise resigning *next* week?

Posted by: windrider2 | October 19, 2007 5:03 PM

Good Bye and Good Riddance To Be Rid Of
That President Dry Drunk Stooge Phony Loser
RNC Chairman and Pathetic Illegal Alien
Panderer US Senator Mel Martinez and his
insane obession with Illegal Alien Amnesty
and as the Republican and Bush White House
Front Man In Wooing More Cuban,Mexican,and
Hispanic Voters for the Republican Party/
All Mel Maritinez has ever been,simply is
nothing more then a cheap hatchetman for
George W Bush and Darth Vader Cheney and
whose record as a US Senator from Florida
is so poor that his own Florida constituents wanted Martinez Recalled and
even though Florida doesnot even have Recall if that tells you want a loser this
creep Bush stooge GOP hack Martinez is now.

Posted by: Ralphinphnx | October 19, 2007 4:41 PM

40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004 is pretty amazing.

My guess for 2008 is, uh, a heck of a lot less than that. I'm gonna go with 12, and that's only because of the Cubans.

I have a feeling the Republicans may live to regret ticking off the fastest-growing minority in the country...

Posted by: Jenn2 | October 19, 2007 4:12 PM

Hekuva a job Mel. How did Bush's butt taste?
Oh the shame!

Posted by: thebobbob | October 19, 2007 4:09 PM for him as a vice-presidential candidate.

Posted by: hogtown00 | October 19, 2007 3:56 PM

Who cares bye bye Mel! Who's next?

Posted by: irizarryrafael | October 19, 2007 3:53 PM

Now he needs to leave the senate. What a turn coat. He's a full time supporter of illegals (as long as they are of hispanic origins). Not really into supporting his constiuency. This one needs to be voted out!

Posted by: CM1515 | October 19, 2007 3:53 PM

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