President Bush nominated outgoing Florida Gov. Bob Martinez to replace William Bennett as national anti-drug director, and selected Bennett as the new GOP national chairman.
In a double-barrel White House announcement Friday, Bush hailed Martinez, 55, and Bennett, 47, as proven leaders certain to make their marks on the war on drugs and Republican politics.Some members of Congress, however, promptly criticized the selection of Martinez, calling the governor a "political reject" with inadequate drug-fighting experience.
Martinez, a Republican, was defeated in his
Nov. 6 bid for re-election by Democrat Lawton Chiles. Bush's son, Jeb Bush, served as his campaign manager.
Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Martinez "lacks the background and record to suggest that he is well-suited for this task." Biden's panel will hold the confirmation hearings.
Bush called Martinez "superbly qualified," saying he served as point man in Florida's war on narcotics as well as in the National Governors' Association's anti-drug efforts.
Bennett resigned Nov. 8 as the first director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He served as education secretary in the Reagan administration.
The Republican National Commmittee is virtually certain in January to approve Bush's selection of Bennett as its new chairman. He would replaced Lee Atwater, who has battled a brain tumor the past year.
Atwater, who would move to the new post of general chairman, said in a statement, "I look forward to working with Bill Bennett as we build our party organization for the 1992 election," when Bush will be up for re-election.
The often outspoken and combative Bennett made no comment during his joint appearance with Bush and Martinez. The governor, in brief remarks, said, "Filling Bill Bennett's shoes will be tough."
Martinez praised Bennett for conducting an effective war on drugs, but said he would have to review the status of efforts before deciding whether there should be any changes in strategy.