Sept. 19, 2012— -- New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez joined the chorus of Republicans criticizing presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his dismissing of 47 percent of voters, saying they will vote Obama because they are dependent on government services.
Just several weeks ago, Martinez spoke on Romney's behalf at the Republican National Convention, but she was quick to distance herself from the candidate's controversial remarks.
"We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else," Martinez said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. "There is a net that does allow them to be caught and taken care of, whether it be through medical services, whether it be food services, whether it be with funding for apartments, for housing.
"I think, certainly the fact that New Mexico provides that safety net is a good thing," she added.
"There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them," he told them.
"My job is not to worry about these people," he went on to say. "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Romney's comments were criticized for being both inaccurate and politically damaging. He said at a news conference on Monday night that his "off the cuff" remarks were not "elegantly stated," and that he wants to help all Americans. But he said the comments reflected the general philosophical difference between President Obama and himself.
Romney also joked to donors that it would be politically beneficial to him if his father, who was born in a Mormon colony in Mexico, was actually of Mexican heritage. Martinez, who is of Mexican-American descent, did not comment on Romney's quip.
Martinez endorsed Romney in June but one month before that, she rapped him for voicing support for "self-deportation" during the GOP presidential primary.
"'Self-deport?' What the heck does that mean?" Martinez, the nation's first Latina governor, told Newsweek. "I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now there's an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why."
Elected in 2010, Martinez is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and speculation briefly swirled this spring that she could have joined Romney's ticket as vice presidential nominee.