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Susana Martinez: U.S. Overdue for Female President

Susana Martinez: U.S. Overdue for Female President

By Scott Conroy - November 4, 2013

LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is eager to see the nation elect its first female president -- a milestone she called "long past overdue" in an interview with RealClearPolitics on Monday.

But the popular first-term Republican governor said she is disinclined to seek the position herself.

“I’m the first female Hispanic governor in the country, and being that first female Hispanic governor in the country, with it comes a lot of responsibility,” she said. “And I have to do the job of being governor for New Mexico right. There are a lot of little girls watching, and because there are a lot of little girls watching, I can’t walk away from a position not having accomplished the things I said I was going to do.”

Martinez, who was in New Jersey for a full day of campaign appearances with Gov. Chris Christie, noted that she took the reins of a state that ranked next to last in education -- an issue that remains urgent as she faces re-election next year.

“My priority is moving the needle in the right direction, because then those little girls can dream to be something maybe like me, beyond me, or anything else. But I want to pave that path for them,” she said. “So being governor is what I want to be.”

Martinez has echoed this line of thought previously when explaining why she won’t run for president, but in Monday’s interview she did not answer directly when asked if she would consider being the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee.

“I’m so focused on New Mexico,” she replied.

Since being elected in 2010, Martinez has steadily risen on Republican strategists’ presidential wish lists, becoming one of the most highly coveted campaign surrogates for GOP candidates nationwide.

Like Christie, Martinez is a former prosecutor turned popular Republican governor in a blue state, earning approval ratings consistently topping 60 percent.

As she joined the New Jersey incumbent for a half-dozen public events throughout the state on Monday, Martinez (at left in photo above) went largely unrecognized by the crowds who had come to see their own high-profile governor on the day before he is expected to cruise to an easy re-election victory.

But Christie made sure to let his supporters know how fondly he regards Martinez, noting that she and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were the only out-of-state politicians whom he invited to campaign with him.

Asked whether their joint appearances might serve as a prelude to a 2016 presidential ticket, Christie did not dismiss the notion.

“I have absolutely no idea,” he said at a packed diner in Nutley. “But I’m glad Susana is here.”

Despite her denials of interest, Martinez is almost certain to face continued entreaties from fellow Republicans, many of whom are enamored of her political resume and the demographic appeal that her addition to a GOP ticket would present.

Her bipartisan appeal was on full display Monday in the Garden State.

Asked about the extent to which some of her fellow party members may have damaged the Republican brand during the recent government shutdown, Martinez noted that there was “plenty of blame to go around.”

“It shouldn’t have happened,” she said. “It could have been avoided. But there were not relationships that were created early on by the president with those in Congress and in the Senate that should have been created a long time ago. And when there isn’t any communication, nothing gets done.”

Martinez noted that she and Christie have found success in their liberal-leaning home states by engaging with Democrats -- and not just in election years.

“It’s about substance,” she said of her outreach efforts in New Mexico. “It’s about tone. It’s about relationships.” 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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