Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) on Tuesday downplayed his endorsement of the Senate candidacy of Florida Gov. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Ex-Republican lawmaker: I left GOP over Trump ‘flirtations with misogyny' and 'race-baiting’ Ex-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party MORE as a snub of former state House Speaker Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Meghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE--a fellow Cuban-American.

Martinez said he endorsed Crist on Tuesday because he believes the governor can win the election, not because of any animosity toward Rubio.

"I'm very proud of my heritage as I'm sure he's proud of his," Martinez said. "But this is about the next senator from Florida. I would have been very happy to see Marco Rubio as a candidate, but not with Charlie Crist in the race. Governor Crist is ready now to be the next senator from Florida."

--J. Taylor Rushing