Who is Mel Martinez?
Richard Foglesong addresses this question in his latest book, “Immigrant Prince: Mel Martinez and the American Dream.” Foglesong, professor of politics at Rollins College, discusses his book this week on “Intersection.”
Martinez is the United States’ first Cuban-American senator. He emigrated to Central Florida in 1962 as part of Operation Pedro Pan. He served as co-chairman of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign in Florida and was elected to the Senate in 2004. He resigned four years later and now is JPMorgan Chase’s senior executive in Florida.
Martinez’s story is emblematic of several trends shaping American politics today, Foglesong says. Among them are the rise of immigrants and the on-going appeal of an American Dream story. Foglesong describes Martinez as a bridge builder between Republicans and Democrats. He calls the former senator a pan-Hispanic for his appeal across Hispanic groups.
“He crossed boundaries between the Anglo world and the Hispanic world,” Foglesong says. “There really are two Mels here, one who is identified with the Cuban cause, and the other that seems really Anglo.”
What is your perspective? Tune into “Intersection” online here or on WMFE 90.7 FM. The program airs Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and is re-broadcast Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. Then share your perspective here at Florida Talks