By Sam Youngman - 01/25/08 02:50 PM EST
Ex-Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), a former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary and a supporter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was instrumental in engineering Friday’s announcement that Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) will endorse McCain.
Kemp and Martinez are both former HUD secretaries, but it was the revelation that nobody from the McCain camp had actually called Martinez that led to Friday’s developments, according to a source.
Things progressed quickly from there as Martinez made the decision and Kemp made calls to Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, to make arrangements to fly Martinez to Miami for the announcement Friday afternoon.
The GOP primary next Tuesday is a close race between McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
A significant number of Republican Florida voters share Martinez’s Cuban heritage, and his support for McCain is an invaluable boost for the Arizonan.
Martinez and Gov. Charlie Crist (R) were two of the top-prized endorsements the GOP candidates were seeking. One Florida Republican source told The Hill Friday that Crist is still leaning toward neutrality.