Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump said he would do a better job as New Mexico governor than Susana Martinez, a woman once thought to be on his short list for a vice presidential pick. Martinez has been critical of Trump and declined to appear at his rally Tuesday, where shots were reportedly fired — literally, as well as figuratively.
Martinez told the media she was “really busy” running New Mexico, and could not attend the rally due to her work. In response, The Donald tore her to shreds before her own constituents. He accused her of not doing her job and of exacerbating the state’s economic problems, including a large increase in food stamp recipients over the past 16 years. New Mexico is the worst state in the nation for economic growth coming out of the last recession.
“We have got to get your governor to get going,” Trump declared 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.”
The Donald has received a great deal of flack for his comments, perhaps most notably from his former challenger Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Wednesday afternoon, the senator defended Martinez as “one of the hardest working and most effective Governors (sic) in America.”
The truth is @ Gov_Martinez is one of the hardest working and most effective Governors in America. https://t.co/QcADopQCYe
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 25, 2016
Martinez has indeed accomplished a great deal. She sold New Mexico’s luxury jet, barred all state agencies from hiring lobbyists, and signed an executive order rescinding sanctuary status to illegal immigrants convicted of crimes. She is also the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association.
Nevertheless, the governor had to accommodate the moderates and liberals in her state. Although she opposed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), she did not join other Republican governors in calling for its repeal. She opposes gay marriage but did not fight it when her state’s Supreme Court legalized it.
But Martinez also had a few embarrassing moments. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the FBI was investigating political fundraising tied with one of her high-profile political consultants, although a grand jury dropped the investigation in March. Last December, police claimed they found the governor drunk in a Sante Fe hotel room when they responded to a call about noise complaints and guests throwing bottles from the fourth-floor balcony. Martinez denied her intoxication, but the headlines stuck.
Following this event in particular, the Washington Post‘s James Hohmann wrote that Martinez has a reputation as being “Palinesque: gaffe-prone, not intellectually curious and not up for the rigors of a national campaign.”
Martinez endorsed Rubio in March, declaring, “The stakes for our great country are too high — and the differences between the candidates too great — for me to remain neutral in this race.” Not only did she thus endorse The Donald’s competitor, she also implicitly attacked him as one of the candidates she could not trust.
Next Page: It’s not Martinez. But who could still be Trump’s VP?
Martinez is clearly off the list for Trump’s running mate, but speculation is rife, especially after comments by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” He is playing a part in the VP selection process, and hinted at the qualities of a good pick. “I think it’s someone who has federal elective experience so they understand how to make sure that they can get his legislative agenda done,” Lewandowski said.
This statement seems to rule out candidates who have only been governors, such as Martinez, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
It does suggest a better position for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who served in Congress — and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — another former congressman.
“Here’s what the decision comes down to and it’s very simple,” Lewandowski added. “Mr. Trump is going to pick the person who is best to partner with him and to get his legislative agenda through Congress.” Lewandowski defined that agenda as “tax cuts for the middle class, reducing our debt,…creating a better economy, renegotiating our bad trade deals.”
Lewandowski would not answer a question about Corker, who met with The Donald at Trump Tower in New York on Monday.
Trump’s bravado about Martinez should give his supporters pause. The Donald seems to think of himself as able to achieve anything — regardless of the limitations of politics in a liberal state like New Mexico.
If he will claim he could do Martinez’s job better than she does, merely because she will not attend one of his rallies, what does this say about his character or his ability to deal with perceived insults? Then again, to those of us who paid attention during the primary, this is nothing new.