Look for Sen. Mel Martinez to endorse Sen. John McCain in the coming week. Martinez notified McCain of the endorsement almost ten days ago, according to McCain insiders, and the support, which some considered a foregone conclusion, was kept quiet for the lead-up to the Florida primary at the end of the month.
“This allows Martinez to travel with John for the next week or so and seal the deal for us in Florida,” says a current McCain adviser.
McCain advisers also say they expect an endorsement from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the coming days. “We’ve got it locked up,” says the adviser. “It’s just a matter of timing.”
The McCain camp’s certainty about Crist is surprising, given that Crist has privately spent extensive time over the months with Rudy Giuliani, as well as time with Mitt Romney.
Crist’s endorsement — he is still extremely popular in a state that remains about as red as could be hoped for in this political environment — would be a huge boost for McCain who is going to be in a tough race with Giuliani, who has essentially moved his campaign to Florida.
One name that has gone unmentioned in the past week, but will loom more than large in Florida: former Gov. Jeb Bush. Every Republican seeking the imprimatur of “conservative” has sought time with Bush in the past year, and Bush has been more than fair with his time, advice, and support to all who visited him. In fact every major campaign, perhaps with the exception of the Huckabee campaign, has senior advisers or Bush family members working for it.
There was a time when people expected that Jeb Bush might not endorse a candidate in this race. Now those folks are coming around to the notion that Bush might, in fact, endorse. “It’s something he’s thinking about,” says a Jeb adviser. “But he has the luxury of not being in the thick of things. He hasn’t seen this race from a distance. He’s watched it with interest, and he knows just about everything that is going on. He knows the state of the campaigns, the state of the race and the thinking of the candidates. If he does endorse, it won’t be on a wasted effort. It will have meaning and import.”