TAMPA, Fla. – Gov. Susana Martinez’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night drew praise from several New Mexico observers.
The chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Javier M. Gonzales, called the speech “a laundry list of pandering to the radical base of the Republican Party,” but others saw it as a straightforward and engaging explanation of her background and beliefs.
The Republican governor, who spoke just before vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, delivered her speech with warmth, humor and conviction, according to University of New Mexico political science professor Mike Rocco.
Watch a video of Gov. Susana Martinez’s speech at ABQjournal.com/extras
Rocca said two moments in Martinez’s speech were particularly effective. The first was her story about packing a .357 magnum handgun while working for her parent’s security company as an 18-year-old. The second was her anecdote about realizing in 1995 that she was a Republican after living until then as a Democrat.
Some Republican friends invited her and her husband, Chuck Franco, to lunch before she first ran for district attorney in Las Cruces in 1996. The group talked issues and she walked out a convert.
“When we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said,Â ‘I’ll be damned – we’re Republicans’,” Martinez said, triggering laughs and delighted applause from her GOP audience in Tampa on Wednesday night.
“It really spoke to her authenticity” Rocca said. “It came across as fairly bipartisan but also normal. That’s a normal human experience.”
Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., sat in the convention hall and was impressed by what he saw.
“I thought she did a really good job,” Pearce said. “She had some catchy lines and she also talked about she and Mitt Romney sharing the promise of America. I think she met expectations. People didn’t know her very well. They got a sense of her humor, a sense of her past and a sense of her culture. What more could you ask.”
Some New Mexicans in the delegation said they were underwhelmed by the speech but primarily because they were so familiar with Martinez’s story. Monty Newman, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said, “I can’t imagine America not being enthused.
“I thought she represented the state of New Mexico very well,” Newman said. “I was proud to be in the crowd as a New Mexican.”
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal