"Governor Martinez doesn't care about what Donald Trump says about her," Martinez press secretary Mike Lonergan said in a statement to media outlets. "She cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. "She's disappointed that she didn't hear anything about that last night," he added.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has heard the criticisms Donald Trump has thrown at her, but her office insisted yesterday the Republican governor "will not be bullied" by her party's presumptive presidential nominee.
May 26, 201616:18
Soon after, speaking to a receptive audience, Trump suggested Martinez, the nation's first and only Latina governor, was lazy and ineffectual. "We have got to get your governor to get going," he said. "She's got to do a better job, okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She's not doing the job.... She's not doing the job. We've got to get her moving. Come on, let's go, governor."
Keep in mind, Martinez is a conservative Republican and the current chair of the Republican Governors Association. For months, pundits have talked about the New Mexico governor as a leading contender for the party's vice presidential nomination and a rising GOP star.
Which makes Trump's criticisms -- read from pre-written notes, not made off the cuff -- all the more striking. It's one thing for Trump to take some verbal shots at leading Republicans during the primaries after they've endorsed a rival candidate, but in GOP politics, the primaries are over. Trump's the last man standing, and this is the point in the process in which he's (a) supposed to be uniting the party, (b) stepping up outreach to Hispanic voters; and (c) toning down his attacks on women.
And yet, this week in New Mexico, Trump did the exact opposite. The question is, why?
Slate's Josh Voorhees ran through some of the possibilities: "Trump is a bully, and his attack last night could have been an effort to force Martinez's hand, or a warning to other party figures still on the fence. It could have been Trump trying to re-establish his anti-establishment bona fides now that the GOP is mainstreaming him, or simply him overreacting to a political slight, either because he couldn't stop himself or because he didn't want to."
It's obviously speculative, but I'm going with "the guy just can't help himself." When Trump goes on the offensive like this, it's hard to see any broader strategic thinking. In this case, Martinez slighted Trump by saying she didn't want to appear with him, so the presidential candidate responded the only way he knows how: by lashing out.
And while that's notable on its face, it's also the sort of instinct that causes consternation among Republican insiders who want to win the White House. Presidential candidates are supposed to develop a pretty thick skin while having enough discipline to resist the urge to initiate pointless feuds, especially with high-profile members of their own party.
Trump, however, doesn't really know what he's doing, so he relies on his instincts while making up a strategy as he goes along. This week's volley wasn't pretty, and if you're expecting more fights like this one in the coming months, you probably won't be disappointed.