...News of his departure comes as Republican candidates are criticized for skipping forums aimed at Hispanic and black voters, and reports that he would step down before November 2008 dismayed some supporters.
''Hispanic voters will be key to winning the nomination, and Mel is one of the few GOP leaders who understands their importance..." said state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican. "Mel Martinez understands we cannot continue to alienate Hispanics or we risk becoming irrelevant."
Martinez, who does not face reelection until 2010, has taken a battering in the polls for his immigration stance, and friends suggested it has been daunting ''trying to wear both hats'' as the party's chief cheerleader and senator.
Politics · Sun, 09/30/2007 - 13:37 · Importance: 1