New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, whose prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention elevated her national profile, is distancing herself from Mitt Romney’s now infamous comments that nearly half of Americans believe they are victims dependent on government.
The GOP presidential nominee's remarks, made to donors at a private fundraiser in May, came to light this week in a video posted online by the magazine Mother Jones.
Asked about the video at a news conference on prison reform in Albuquerque, Martinez said New Mexico has a lot of people at the poverty level.
"But they count just as much as anybody else," she said.
The state has a strong safety net for those at or below the poverty level, and "that safety net is a good thing," the governor said.
News of the video came a week after new U.S. Census data that showed 22.2 percent of the population New Mexico was living in poverty in 2011. That was the highest percentage nationally, according to census numbers.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
Romney later said the comments weren't "elegantly stated" and were spoken "off the cuff."
Martinez, a Republican, is the nation's only Latina governor and serves as honorary co-chair of "Juntos Con Romney." The group was formed shortly after Romney won the New Mexico primary in June and guides his campaign on Hispanic outreach.
"It doesn't matter what economic level you come from (or) what kind of jobs you have," she said Tuesday. "I urge everyone...that 47 percent, the middle class and the upper class to all get out on Election Day."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.