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Gov. Criticizes Romney Comment

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SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez set off sparks on the national political scene again this week, criticizing Mitt Romney’s comments on his presidential loss, GOP assumptions about voters and President Barack Obama’s lack of initiative on immigration reform.

Martinez, who was in Las Vegas for a Republican Governors Association meeting, took issue with the GOP presidential candidate’s recent comment that Obama won re-election because he offered “gifts” to minorities and younger voters, according to a report on the Politico website.

“That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party — our comments that are not thought through carefully,” the Republican governor said.

And, as she did in September, Martinez criticized Romney’s earlier suggestion that 47 percent of the nation’s voters are dependent on government assistance.

“It’s a ridiculous statement to make,” Martinez said. “You want to earn the vote of every single person you can. … It doesn’t matter whether individuals are in need of assistance of the government or individuals who are in college, it doesn’t matter. Why would you ever write off 47 percent?”

Martinez was also critical of what she called her party’s assumptions about voters, according to Politico.

“Republicans need to stop making assumptions, and they need to start talking to younger people, people of color, and ask them — not talk to them — ask them, ‘What is it that we can do better? How do we earn your vote? How do we earn the ability for you to see that we can be the party that will make your life better and that of your children?’ ”

Martinez’s remarks echoed those made earlier in the week by GOP Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the incoming chairman of the Republican governors group, and Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Martinez, who is the nation’s first Hispanic female governor, did not limit her criticism to Romney and the GOP, according to the Politico report.

She also criticized Obama for not following through on his pledge to change the nation’s immigration system during his first term. Martinez said Obama never took her up on a request to visit with him on the subject of border security, Politico said.

“There are many solutions, if we just started to talk about it in a really sincere way, and we don’t,” she said, referring to immigration reform. “I think at the national level, they’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist, and that’s unfortunate.”

Martinez said that immigration reform can be tackled “without using the word ‘amnesty’ ” and that legal status can be achieved in various ways. “It doesn’t have to be a leap from ‘You’re here, and all the sudden you’re a citizen,’ ” she told Politico.

In New Mexico, Martinez has been criticized by immigrants rights advocates for her push to repeal the 2003 law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Martinez has said her push to repeal the law stems from public safety concerns and not immigration issues.

While Martinez signed an executive order to State Police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested, the first-term governor has said she does not favor an Arizona-type crackdown on illegal immigration.

Martinez had also criticized Romney’s stance on immigration — specifically the idea of “self-deportation” — earlier this year.

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