Martinez, new Republican Party chairman, says party must return to core beliefs


Saturday, November 18th 2006, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The newly tapped Republican National Committee general chairman said Saturday that the GOP must return to core beliefs of smaller government, less spending, and fewer taxes to regain national leadership.

The address, Sen. Mel Martinez's first since his new post was announced, came as Republicans are reeling nationally from the loss of both houses of Congress.

``There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. There's nothing wrong with our principles,'' Martinez, R-Fla., told members of the Florida Republican Party at its quarterly meeting. ``We need to go back to restoring the faith of the people.''

Martinez said continued Republican success in Florida was a sign that state Republicans needed to lead a return to ``the party of ideas.'' Florida Republicans held onto the governor's office and two out of three cabinet seats. He attributed GOP losses nationally to the party's failure to speak ``in a unified voice.''

This is likely to be Martinez' biggest challenge in his role as general chairman. The first-term senator takes control of the party in January, as President Bush enters the latter half of his second term with deep division in the party on issues such as immigration. Many Republicans also are concerned about the policy toward the war in Iraq, and have criticized the tremendous growth in federal spending since Bush took office.

``I think the lesson we learned was that too often we were not speaking with a unified voice, that we allowed others to shape the agenda for us,'' Martinez said.

Martinez said Republicans would gain strength in preparation for the 2008 elections. He also took multiple shots at Democrats.

``I gotta tell you, the greatest thing in the world is watching the Democrats trip over each other in the first few days,'' said Martinez, referring to the party's difficulty in setting a leadership team.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski dismissed the comment as ``silly.''

``It's disappointing that while Sen. Martinez admits his own party's failures, he continues to make silly partisan attacks for political gain,'' Bubriski said.