Trump's New Mexico stop highlights GOP opposition

A verbal scuffle with the state's Republican Latina governor, and violence between protesters and police, continued a trend of conflict dogging the presumptive GOP nominee's campaign.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday.

Donald Trump may have secured his position as the Republican party's presumptive nominee, but GOP leaders are still working to accept his position. 

The latest example of the party's struggles uniting behind the controversial businessman came Tuesday in New Mexico, where Mr. Trump criticized Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for her management of the state following her reluctance to back his campaign.

"We have to get your governor to get going. She's got to do a better job, okay?" Trump said at an Albuquerque campaign rally, according to media reports.

"Hey, maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going," he added. "She's not doing the job. We've got to get her moving. Come on: Let's go, governor."

Trump also denounced the increase in New Mexico residents on food stamps, and Governor Martinez's allowance of Syrian refugee resettlement in the state, following up on his strong anti-immigrant and refugee stance that has shaped the campaign.

Martinez, who is head of the Republican Governors Association, did not attend the rally and has been reluctant to fall in line behind Trump despite his frontrunner status. Her office responded by refuting Trump's claims.

"The potshots weren't about policy, they were about politics," Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan told the Associated Press. "And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans, and she did not hear that today."

The Albuquerque rally also highlighted an ongoing problem dogging Trump's campaign: persistent protests and violence accompanying his events around the country. The Tuesday rally was repeatedly interrupted by attendees opposed to his rhetoric, and featured several altercations between protesters and security officers. Trump acknowledged the protesters, telling them to "Go home to mommy," according to The Associated Press.

The protests took a turn for the worse when burning T-shirts and plastic bottles were hurled at police outside the convention center, prompting a crowd control response including the use of pepper spray and smoke grenades by law enforcement. Several officers were injured by rocks, and several of the venue's glass doors and windows were smashed.

"This was not a protest, this was a riot. These are hate groups," local attorney Doug Antoon told the AP.

The incident occurred less than one month after Trump protesters and supporters clashed in Orange County during the nominee's sold-out campaign stops.

Despite the fractured support and controversy surrounding his White House run, it is likely more establishment figures and voters will decide to fall in line behind their party's pick, despite the perceived moral dilemma Trump presents to many Republicans. And party members could end up backing Trump simply in an effort to wrest the general election from the Democratic candidate, likely to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who Trump mocked and called a "low-life" on Tuesday.

"I will never say this but she screams and drives me crazy," Trump said, according to the Post. "I can't listen."

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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