Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Mark Ronchetti’s rivals for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race are criticizing the former television meteorologist for saying at a climate change event last year that he was a Republican “until the orange one.”
Gavin Clarkson labeled Ronchetti a “Never Trumper” in a YouTube ad showing a clip of the comments made at a University of New Mexico event, which appear to be a reference to President Donald Trump. And Elisa Martinez called for him to withdraw from the race.
During the livestreamed “Talking With Family and Friends About Climate Change” event at UNM in March 2019, Rochetti said he was a “conservative Christian who used to be a Republican until the orange one.”
“I’m afraid that has taken a part of my soul, and that’s not coming back,” he said in the video.
Ronchetti’s campaign spokesman, Jeff Glassburner, said Ronchetti never left the Republican Party and was “obviously joking” in the speech in which he defended the conservative viewpoint on climate change.
“Mark has been clear from Day One of this campaign that he supports President Trump and his policies, and this attack is nothing more than a desperate attack by a failing candidate (Clarkson) to get attention,” he said.
Clarkson, however, called the comments “clearly a Never-Trump dog whistle.”
“For Ronchetti to open his remarks by renouncing the GOP to a gathering of far-left climate change alarmists in 2019, just nine months before seeking the Republican nomination, should raise disturbing questions about what he really believes and how he would behave in the U.S. Senate,” Clarkson said in a news release.
“This kind of hateful, far-left attack on President Trump has no place in our party,” Martinez added in a release.
It is not the first time an opponent has questioned Ronchetti’s loyalty. Former candidate Louie Sanchez criticized Ronchetti’s announcement video in which he said he supported the president, even though he might not support every tweet and every sound bite. That was also cited by Clarkson.