ABC News’ Bret Hovell reports: Florida Senator Mel Martinez endorsed the presidential candidacy of John McCain Friday, boosting McCain’s chances of succeeding among South Florida’s large and passionate Cuban-American community in Tuesday’s primary.
“I’ve decided to make my views known on the presidential race,” Martinez said, introducing McCain before a speech to the Latin Builders Association in Miami. “I’ve decided that the best person to lead our country in these uncertain times, the man who we should trust in these uncertain times, ought to be John McCain.”
The Martinez endorsement will be seen as a blow to McCain’s rival Rudy Giuliani, who spent part of Thursday campaigning in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood hoping to cement his support in the community.
Martinez was courted by several of the leading candidates on the Republican side, but as recently as yesterday, it was reported that he would not be making an endorsement. He said he changed his mind last night.
“I basically just decided that I couldn’t sit idly by,” Martinez said.
Martinez also threw some red meat to the largely Cuban-American audience.
“I would not endorse someone that I didn’t have total confidence is going to be Castro’s worst nightmare,” he said, before repeating the same line again in Spanish to assure it's inclusion Spanish language newscasts.