ALBUQUERQUE — Despite his promise to unite the Republican Party, Donald Trump attacked New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez — the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association — on Tuesday night and accused her of “not doing the job."
Martinez has been critical of Trump and did not attend his Tuesday night rally at a convention center in Albuquerque, telling the local media she was “really busy” running the state. In turn, Trump stood before thousands of the people she represents and told them that the two-term governor is to blame for many of the state’s economic problems, including a dramatic increase in the number of residents receiving food stamps over the past 16 years.
“We have got to get your governor to get going,” Trump said to a cheering audience. “She’s got to do a better job. Okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job. Hey! Maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going. She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on: Let’s go, governor.”
Trump also criticized Martinez for allowing “large numbers” of Syrian refugees to resettle in the state. Although governors have limited control over these federal resettlements, Trump faulted Martinez for allowing it to happen.
“If I was governor, that wouldn’t be happening,” Trump said.
Mike Lonergan, Martinez’s press secretary, responded to Trump’s attacks in a statement late Tuesday: “Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t realize Governor Martinez wasn’t elected in 2000, that she has fought for welfare reform, and has strongly opposed the President’s Syrian refugee plan. But the pot shots weren’t about policy, they were about politics. And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans. Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her — she cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. She didn’t hear anything about that today.”
Martinez is the nation’s first Latina governor, and New Mexico’s first female governor. She is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and is frequently mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate. But she has been critical of her party’s likely nominee. Last month, Martinez told a crowd of about 60 wealthy Republican donors gathered for a retreat in Florida that she is offended by the language Trump has used to describe immigrants. She added that Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border and force Mexico to pay for it was unrealistic and irresponsible, according to those in attendance at the time.
Lately, Martinez has dodged questions about Trump and has yet to say whether she will support him. On Monday, Martinez told local reporters that she would not attend Trump’s Tuesday night rally at the Albuquerque Convention Center because she is “really busy.”
“I’m the governor of New Mexico, and I’m really focused on what’s going on here in New Mexico,” Martinez said, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The rally attracted several thousand people and a number of protesters who repeatedly interrupted Trump’s 65-minute address. After the rally, protesters and others clashed with police, sometimes violently.
Martinez was not the only powerful woman Trump attacked at the rally. He also went after Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has become an outspoken surrogate for Clinton — and one is not afraid to challenge Trump.
During the rally, Trump repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a reference to the Native American heritage that she claims.
“She is probably the senator that's doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She's a total failure,” Trump said. “She said she was an Indian. She said because her cheekbones were high, she was an Indian, that she was Native American. And, you know, we have these surrogates — people like her, total failures.”
Trump also criticized Clinton for her support of overseas trade and defended himself against her campaign’s latest attack, which spotlighted Trump saying in 2006 that he wanted the housing bubble to burst so that he could profit.
“This low-life, she puts on an ad: 'Did you know that Donald Trump was rooting against housing because he wanted housing to go down because he wanted to buy,’” Trump said. “I’m a businessman; that's what I'm supposed to do. That's what I'm supposed to do. I mean, I'm a businessman.”
Trump then went after Clinton’s speaking style and imitated her, raising his voice to a high-pitched yell.
“I will never say this but she screams and drives me crazy,” Trump said. “I can’t listen.”
Ahead of the rally, several of Trump’s warm-up acts attacked Clinton. David Chavez, a local attorney and former state lawmaker made a series of jokes about Clinton, comparing voting for Clinton because she's a woman to drinking bleach because it looks like water.
"I've heard people say: I don't know who to choose: Trump or Hillary. Even Bill Clinton chose other women. So you should, too," Chavez said to laughter and applause.
Chavez was followed by Stephen Miller, one of Trump's top aides, who spent more than 10 minutes giving a rave review of the book "Clinton Cash," by Peter Schweizer, and accusing Clinton of selling out the working-class people she claims to care about.
"Hillary Clinton never did anything for the working people of this country but sell them out,” Miller said.
Trump has accused Clinton of “playing the women’s card” and said that he’s not afraid to aggressively attack her. But he doesn’t want to lose the votes of women.
“They say I’m setting records with men — it’s so unexciting to me,” Trump said. “I want to set records with women, not with men.”