Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) on Tuesday downplayed his endorsement of the Senate candidacy of Florida Gov. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristHouse GOP secures last-minute change to gun bill On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks MORE as a snub of former state House Speaker Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Rubio's pragmatic thinking on China 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