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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail with a force Tuesday, veering away from his recent calls for party unity to attack New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising star Republican and frequent critic of his campaign, as a poor leader who hasn’t done enough to stem economic problems in her state.
“You’ve got to get your governor to do a better job. She’s not doing her job,” Trump said at a convention center here, at one point joking that “maybe” he should run for New Mexico governor.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also argued Martinez has put her state at risk by accepting Syrian refugees in New Mexico.
“Syrian refugees are being relocated in large numbers to New Mexico. If I was governor, that wouldn’t be happening,” Trump said, renewing his push for a temporary ban on refugees. He urged greater vetting and control of refugees, warning the alternative is “we are not going to have a country.”
Trump’s comments came as Martinez, who is currently head of the Republican Governors Association, has notably declined to say if she will endorse him as the GOP nominee. She and other state Republican leaders were no-shows at Trump’s raucous rally here Tuesday — his first campaign visit to New Mexico — which was repeatedly interrupted by protesters both inside and outside the venue.
As Trump spoke, several hundred protesters outside the convention center rushed police, trying to storm the building. When they were blocked, they lobbed rocks at cops, who reportedly tear-gassed the crowd. A glass door at the convention center was shattered by what police later said was a shot from a pellet gun.
Inside, it was at times just as tense, as protesters waving signs trashing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric interrupted the candidate more than a dozen times. At one point, the GOP candidate instructed his supporters to ignore the disruptions — insisting “their voices are so weak, I can’t hear them.” But then seconds later, Trump abruptly whipped around to see cops forcibly dragging a female protester in the bleachers behind him from her seat.
Silent for more than a minute, Trump finally turned to the crowd and said, “This is exciting, isn’t it?”
It was the first campaign rally in nearly two weeks for Trump, who has maintained a less frantic public schedule since winning the Indiana primary earlier this month — a victory that forced his last two rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, from the race. Addressing a crowd of what the fire marshal said was 8,000 people, Trump lashed out at his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, calling her “crooked” and a “lightweight” who would drive the country into the ground with policies that would be worse than President Obama’s.
But he also saved venom for other Democratic critics, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, repeatedly referring to her as “Pocahontas” as he mocked her claims that she’s part Native American. And he lashed out at former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who got into hot water last week for suggesting “there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women.”
“Can you imagine if I made that statement? It would be the electric chair,” Trump said.