Video: Martinez: We must look for common ground

updated 12/2/2008 11:43:48 AM ET 2008-12-02T16:43:48

Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, who has struggled to boost his approval ratings because of close ties to President George W. Bush, announced Tuesday he will not seek a second term in 2010.

His seat was widely seen as vulnerable in two years, but Martinez, a Republican, rejected suggestions he faced difficult re-election prospects in a state won last month by Democrat Barack Obama.

"I've faced much tougher obstacles in my life," Martinez said. "My decision is not based on re-election prospects, but on what on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life."

Martinez, 62, was elected in 2004 after serving as the U.S. secretary for Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. He served as general chairman of the Republican National Committee for 10 months, resigning in October 2007.

Martinez was born in Cuba. At the age of 15, he fled to America as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez, who was alone and spoke virtually no English, a temporary home at two youth facilities. He then lived with two foster families, with whom he remains close. He was reunited with his family in Orlando in 1966.

In appointing Martinez in 2001, Bush said he was "the embodiment of the American Dream."

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