Today’s Miami Herald notes rookie Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) has made a bit of a habit out of hiding behind his staff when asked to take responsibility for unpopular actions. Indeed, Martinez has shown he is never afraid, no matter how grievous his mistakes, to pass the buck to a subordinate. Here are the greatest hits:
9/22/04: After a Martinez campaign ad referred to opponent Bill McCollum as being a tool of ”the radical homosexual lobby” (a phrase which also popped up in Martinez’s last-minute direct-mail fliers), Martinez tells the press:
‘We made mistakes…A couple of young turks in my campaign went further than they should have.
9/28/04: The Martinez campaign sends out a news release calling the federal agents who seized Elian Gonzalez “armed thugs.” Martinez once again blames his staff. From Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff:
MARTINEZ: No, no. I never said that. And it was something that was put out by someone in the office and immediately withdrawn, as we saw what had happened.
WOODRUFF: So it wasn’t your words.
MARTINEZ: Absolutely not my words and never would be my words.
WOODRUFF: How did this happen?
MARTINEZ: Well, it’s someone who was writing for the campaign. And it’s inappropriate that they should use those words. Those are inappropriate words. I would never have used them.
4/7/05: It is discovered that a controversial memo calling Terri Schiavo a “great political issue” for conservatives originated in Martinez’s office. Martinez personally handed the memo to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), explaining it contained “talking points.” Besides firing subordinate Brian Darling, Martinez releases this statement:
It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document…Until this afternoon, I had never seen it and had no idea a copy of it had ever been in my possession.