Donald Trump has a new message for Susana Martinez, the Republican New Mexico governor he slammed in front of a home state crowd last month for not doing her job: Actually, he thinks she's pretty great.
Trump would now like Martinez's endorsement, he said Thursday in a phone interview with a New Mexico newspaper reporter, signaling a truce in a public spat with the country's only Latina governor and chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association that had raised questions about Trump's desire to unify the party.
“I respect her. I have always liked her,” he told the newspaper, The Santa Fe New Mexican.
The reversal comes after Martinez made her own gesture of rapprochement. She said in a television interview that, in spite of her criticism of Trump's stance on Mexican immigrants, she remained open to endorsing him.
It also coincided with the taming of Trump's most powerful critics within the party. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that he would no longer withhold his support for the party's presumptive nominee . And a fervent effort to recruit an independent candidate who could rival Trump fizzled with the naming of relatively unknown lawyer David French .
Trump's attack on Martinez, at a rally in Albuquerque last week, attracted national attention.
Martinez has frequently appeared on short lists of potential running mates for Trump. She represents two demographics — Hispanics and women — considered crucial to his ability to win the general election.
But instead of courting her, Trump swiped at her after she withheld her endorsement.
“We have to get your governor and get going," he said at the rally. "She’s got to do a better job, OK? Your governor has got to do a better job.”
The comments were widely interpreted as a sign that Trump would hit back at his attackers, no matter who they were.
Martinez, in turn, wavered. She did not mention her previous concerns about Trump's proposed immigration policies or his denigration of Mexican immigrants when a reporter asked Thursday whether she would endorse him.
“I am waiting to hear from him as to addressing the issues facing New Mexico," Martinez she said, according to The Sante Fe New Mexican. "Once I hear that, we’ll see what happens.”