The Miami Herald
Thu, Sep. 23, 2004

Giuliani aids Martinez cause

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, left, links hands Wednesday with Mel Martinez, the GOP nominee in Florida for the U.S. Senate. RAUL RUBIERA/HERALD STAFF

New York's former mayor made a campaign stop in Miami on behalf of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mel Martinez.


Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rallied hundreds of Republicans in Miami on Wednesday evening, capping a day of campaigning in Florida for U.S. Senate nominee Mel Martinez.

Speaking largely to Cuban exiles packed into a one-time car dealership on LeJeune Road -- the new Bush-Cheney Miami headquarters -- Giuliani was greeted with chants of "Rudy! Rudy!''

The popular mayor urged the enthusiastic crowd to elect the "first Cuban American to the Senate.''

Martinez, of Orlando, is in a tight race with former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, who is scheduled to campaign in Miami on Friday and in Broward County on Sunday.

''First of all, thank you for your vote on primary day; I would not have done it without you,'' Martinez said before introducing the former mayor.

Giuliani, praised for his leadership after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said he was returning the favor by stumping for Martinez. When Martinez was U.S. housing secretary, he helped New York, Giuliani said.

''He was a real partner in getting the things needed to rebuild Lower Manhattan,'' Giuliani said. "Now, make sure you elect him, right?''

Martinez told his listeners that Giuliani understands their concerns. ''He knows the needs of the Cuban people,'' Martinez said, relaying a conversation the two had on the flight to Miami. 'He told me, 'Cuba has to be free one day.' ''

The crowd cheered.

Throughout his stops in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami, Giuliani made several quips mocking Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, who was also making stops throughout Florida with his running mate, John Edwards.

''Kerry can't make up his mind,'' Giuliani said, adding, "To tell you the truth, I don't know what he intends to do as president.''

Kerry, said Giuliani, flip-flopped on the war in Iraq and the embargo on Cuba. Bush, he said, will keep the embargo.

Giuliani asked the crowd for one favor: "Don't make the election so close next time, OK?''