Former GOP governor says Trump can win her border state

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — President Donald Trump's direct appeal to Hispanic voters in New Mexico for support ahead of the 2020 election was greeted enthusiastically Tuesday by former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who said she believes the president could carry the state this time.

View all (6)

Trump campaigned in New Mexico in 2016 but lost the state by 8 percentage points to Hillary Clinton.

Martinez, who left office last year on term limits, said Trump was on the right track at his Monday night rally in Rio Rancho in appealing to voters with concerns about public safety and the threat of cross-border drug trafficking.

She cited her own 2010 election and lopsided re-election in 2014 as evidence that a Republican presidential contender still can win the state and said Hispanics in New Mexico are no different from other Americans when it comes to support for border enforcement.

"It's very clear to me that the president can win New Mexico but he's got to go places where Republicans usually don't go," Martinez told Fox News.

Prominent Democrats seized on the Trump's visit to encourage voter registration and turnout, in a state where registered Republicans account for just 30% of the electorate. Democrats account for nearly 46% of registered voters statewide.

Democrats flipped the governor's office and a congressional district in the 2018 election.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said her office is striving to make it easier for eligible voters to participate in the 2020 election, as she also runs for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.

She joined a counter-rally by Democrats in Albuquerque on Monday night, urging the audience to get out and vote.

"We need to make that count because at the end of the day there are far more of us," Toulouse Oliver said. "The only way we can make it go away and we can take our country back is if we all come together in November 2020 and make our voices heard."

New Mexico provides a test of Trump's appeal among residents near the border with Mexico who have a stake in his immigration policies and Hispanic voters, who account for about 40% of the electorate.

Trump's visit was his first to New Mexico since election.