The chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico is standing by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump even as others, including Gov. Susana Martinez, say they won’t support him.
Debbie Maestas issued her statement of support following Sunday’s debate between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. It comes in the context of Friday’s release of a 2005 video in which Trump talks about trying unsuccessfully to have sex with a married woman and claims to kiss and grab women “by the pussy” without their consent.
“The Republican Party of New Mexico certainly does not condone the language used nor the actions described in the video of Mr. Trump released on Friday; however, we believe Mr. Trump to be a different man than that today and that he is the better choice for president,” Chairwoman Maestas said.
Trump said Friday, in response to the release of the video, that he is a different man than he was in 2005. And he said during Sunday’s debate that he did not actually kiss and grab women as he described in the video, but only after moderator Anderson Cooper asked the question several times.
Nationally, many Republicans have been quick to condemn Trump since the video was released Friday. Some have withdrawn their endorsements and called for Trump to quit the race — which he says he will not do. Other prominent Republicans have stood by Trump.
Such division exists among New Mexico Republicans as well. Martinez said Saturday that Trump has displayed “a pattern of disturbing conduct and offensive rhetoric” and she “will not support” him. State Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, called Trump’s comments in the video “terribly offensive” and said he doesn’t support anyone in the presidential race.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and state Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, meanwhile, were quick to condemn Trump’s comments but didn’t say whether they will vote for him.
Others have avoided talking about Trump since Friday. Republican secretary of state candidate Nora Espinoza’s campaign manager said Espinoza would have no comment about Trump because she is “focused on her race.”
And U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who has said previously that he will vote for Trump, has not responded to requests for comment on the 2005 video.
Chairwoman Maestas, however, appears to be all in for Trump.
“Donald Trump’s resilient performance in the debate was what his campaign needed tonight,” she said. “Mr. Trump effectively redirected the narrative back toward the critical issues this country faces and the many failures of Hillary Clinton.”
“If we do not want another four years like the failed status quo of the past eight years, Donald Trump is our only chance to make America great again,” Maestas said.
Not surprisingly, the state Democratic Party had a different take.
“Yet again, Hillary Clinton delivered a positive vision for our country, while Donald Trump showed us that he is still the man who degrades women, disrespects our Hispanic communities, unfairly targets Muslim Americans, and refuses to pay his fair share of taxes,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland. “There is no ‘other’ Donald Trump – this is who he is – and that’s why it’s so shameful that many Republicans like Steve Pearce and Nora Espinoza still refuse to un-endorse him.”
Some NM Republicans back Johnson
Some Republicans had rejected Trump’s candidacy even before the 2005 video was released. Aubrey Blair Dunn, a Republican trying to unseat state Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, was among those already supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson in the presidential race. Over the weekend Dunn called Trump’s comments in the video “morally repugnant.”
Many other New Mexico Republicans are supporting the Libertarian presidential candidate. One recent poll from the Albuquerque Journal had Johnson’s support at 23 percent in New Mexico among Republicans and 24 percent overall. A second poll conducted for KOB-TV had his support at 14 percent overall and 16 percent among Republicans in New Mexico.
Johnson held a rally Saturday at the University of New Mexico. There, the chair of UNM’s College Republicans announced the organization’s support for Johnson.
The Libertarian candidate hammered Trump and Clinton after Sunday’s debate — an event in which he wasn’t allowed to participate.
“When Donald Trump holds a press conference an hour and a half before the debate begins with the intent of deflecting attention from his own misogyny by trying to convince us the Clintons are worse, we probably knew everything we needed to know about this debate, and more important, this campaign,” said Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico. “We have fallen through the looking glass. Thanks to two candidates who are each running on a platform of not being the other, we are in historically uninspiring territory.”
“Americans deserve better. They deserve candidates who are not embarrassments, who aren’t interested in pitting Americans against one another, and who have actually proven that they can lead with principle, nonpartisanship, and a singular purpose of giving Americans the opportunity to improve their lives, be safe, and be free,” Johnson said.