New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Gets Personal, Defends Policy in Interview

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez goes one-on-one with Greta Van Susteren.


In a wide-ranging interview on Fox News Channel's "On the Record, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the first Latina to helm a state in U.S. history, spoke extensively to Greta Van Susteren about her personal life, being a Republican Hispanic, balancing her state's budget (thanks partly to selling off former Gov. Bill Richardson's private jet) and a potential 2016 presidential run.. 

Martinez, whose name has come up as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, grew up in El Paso, Tex., where she worked with her father and mother in the family business -- the "Texas Security Guard Service" -- in the late 70's. 

"I mean, truly, we lived paycheck to paycheck," Martinez said. And when they started the business, I thought they were insane," Martinez said "We had no savings to speak of.  And they started out with a few security guards. My father was a security guard. I was a security guard."

Martinez grabbed the national spotlight when she was rumored to be a possible running mate to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She also got kudos after giving a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where she mentioned her famous .357 magnum.

"I got certified at 18. And I had a .357 magnum," she said at the convention. "I had all the uniform, the badge, the whole nine yards.We walked the parking lot."

Besides speaking candidly about her childhood, Martinez defended the GOP and her policy. She told Van Susteren that her focus is on New Mexico and has no plans to run for president in 2016.

Van Susteren mentioned a comment made by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in 2010 -- when Martinez was running for governor -- questioning how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.

"I find that disappointing that anyone would think that we're not independent thinkers," Martinez said to Van Susteren. "I'm an independent thinker. I am a woman. I am a Republican. And I think for myself and I decide where I vote and how I vote. And to make a statement like that is to assume that we are not independent thinkers, and we are."

Since Martinez became governor of New Mexico, she has steadfastly helped bring down a $450 million deficit largely due to spending cuts like cutting down on exempt employees -- people who answer just to the governor.

"Gov. Richardson had grown the number of exempt employees by over 340," she said. "I have it down to I think 212 at this time. I got rid of the two chefs that were assigned to the residence. We sold the jet that Gov. Richardson had purchased. We sold the jet in addition to four other planes."

Martinez defended her opposition to driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. She said the law has done nothing but bring a criminal industry in New Mexico. She also told Van Susteren that the current law was intended for someone who lived in New Mexico.

"And now we have people from all over the world, who are here illegally who are paying to get that New Mexico driver's license," she said.

The governor said she's always had her sights on politics.

"You know, I actually became a lawyer because I thought you had to be a lawyer in order to get into national politics," she said.

The governor is the legal guardian for her disabled younger sister, Lettie, who also spoke on the show.

"She's the greatest sister I ever had," Lettie said.

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