Little more than an hour before he was to introduce U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to the gathering at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officers, former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) spoke with VOXXI in an exclusive interview about President Barack Obama’s immigration policy shift, Mitt Romney’s speech to conference participants Thursday and the possibility of a Hispanic in the White House.
“I think it’s a blatantly political act by a president who, when he had the chance, didn’t do what he needed to do, ” said Martinez, the first Latino to head a major party as chair of the Republican Party from 2006 to 2007. “All it’s done is politicize the issue even more.”
Martinez told VOXXI that the decree, which halts the deportation of about 800,000 undocumented youth brought here as children by their parents, will not work as a unilateral measure.
“He should have sought a bipartisan solution and this totally destroys efforts I had been working on with a bipartisan focus,” Martinez said, adding that he has talked to both Democrats and Republicans about a DREAM Act solution.
“It’s hard to know if something could have been done in this political atmosphere between now and November, but now we will never know. The president put an end to that,” Martinez said, as he held a copy of Rubio’s autobiography, an indication he would quote from the newly-released book, An American Son.
He was not at NALEO’s conference Thursday when Romney spoke, but said he heard Romney’s speech and read news reports about it.
“He focused on the issues he’s always focused on: jobs and the economy and the failures of this administration to remedy the needs of Hispanics in terms of every day life,” Martinez said. “I’m talking about the bulk of Hispanic voters whose lives are not better than they were four years ago, whose homes are in foreclosure, who still see close to 15 percent unemployment.”
Martinez told VOXXI he did not know if Romney would tap his friend and colleague for the vice presidential post. But he said he had high hopes for Rubio.
“He’s an incredible man. His future is completely unlimited,” Martinez said. “I know he’ll make a good leader for this country.”
He hinted that perhaps Rubio could even run for president in the future.
“I don’t think there is any question that Marco Rubio on a presidential ticket — either on the first space or on the second space — is something we will see in our lifetime or, rather, in the very near future.”