Washington (CNN) – Former Republican Florida Governor Bob Martinez can see much of the state from his office atop a downtown Tampa building. And he's watched the battle for the Florida primary get intense and at times nasty with bemusement.
"For those of us who live in Tampa, and are involved in [planning] the 2012 convention, it certainly is generating an awful lot of excitement."
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Martinez, in an interview with CNN Radio, noted the 2010 gubernatorial and Senate contests were "pretty combative."
So he said he thinks the GOP presidential race is a natural carry-over as it gets tough and nasty.
Mitt Romney was forced to release his tax returns. Newt Gingrich had to put out information on what a consulting firm he worked for did to help bailed-out mortgage giant Freddie Mac win friends in Congress, albeit before the bailout was necessary.
Martinez said all of that 'What is he hiding?' finger-pointing is "unfortunate with so many good issues out there [having] to spend time on something that's gone over and over."
Florida is a big media-market state giving Romney an advantage. Restore Our Future, the political action committee backing Romney has just ponied up more than $4 million for TV and radio ads attacking Gingrich.
It may not be worth it, according to Martinez, who's noticed only Romney ads playing heavily on the broadcast airwaves. "Does not seem to have made a lot of difference," in terms of Gingrich suddenly being on the rise in Florida as well as national polls.
"By now [voters] have already listened to whatever an opponent thinks is a flaw in the other candidate's background or resume," that Martinez believes they've heard before, especially with so much media coverage of 20 debates.
"That's all inside-the-ballpark stuff" not bound to change any minds, the former governor thinks. He himself has chosen to not endorse a candidate in 2012. That's because he says he doesn't know any of the remaining candidates very well. He had early hopes for Tim Pawlenty.
Martinez said he does not think it was a bad idea for the state to move up its primary against the wishes of party leaders, even though it may cost half the delegation to the Tampa convention.
"We have 50 winner-take-all [delegates up for grabs in the primary]. So that's more than anybody's been able to accumulate in the previous three states. It's a big shelf. And you gotta deal with a very mixed, diverse population. It's the big stage.
"There are a lot of other states coming after us that are big stages; and if you can't handle this big stage, you're going to have a hard time handling it elsewhere."