RNC official defends Susana Martinez after Trump criticism
© Getty Images

A top Republican National Committee (RNC) official on Thursday joined others from the party in defending New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez from criticism by presumptive presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE, another bump in the path toward party unity.

"I think as Republicans, as a party at least, we're very proud that we elected the first Latina governor as a party, the first female governor in New Mexico, and she's done a phenomenal job," RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said Thursday during an appearance on CNN. 

"I think they have some policy differences they have to spend some more time talking about," Spicer added, later praising her "amazing life story" and "great work" in her state.

ADVERTISEMENT

A slew of Trump's former presidential rivals — including Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTom Hanks weighs in on primary: 'Anybody can become president' GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Group of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' MORE, Jeb Bush and John Kasich — rushed to the defense of Martinez, the country's first Latina governor, after Trump on Tuesday night said she "has to do a better job" while speaking at a rally in her home state that she did not attend.

“Hey, maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going," Trump said at his rally in a convention center in Albuquerque. "We’ve got to get her moving. Come on, let’s go, governor.”

Scott Walker, another former presidential rival of Trump’s, who serves as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), released a statement late Wednesday defending Martinez and saluting her work as chairwoman of the RGA to elect GOP governors.

Martinez, who has been critical of Trump's comments on Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally, has not endorsed the presumptive nominee, and after Trump’s comments her office said she "will not be bullied" into supporting the candidate. 

"Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her — she cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans," Martinez press secretary Mike Lonergan said in a Wednesday statement to media outlets. "She’s disappointed that she didn’t hear anything about that last night." 

Trump senior adviser Barry Bennett indicated that Martinez had refused an attempt to sit down with the presumptive nominee, though Martinez's office denied that there had been such a request from the Trump campaign.

"I wish that she would have endorsed the nominee of our party like everybody else," Bennett said on CNN.

The spat comes amid Trump's push to unite Republicans around his campaign and make inroads with women and Latinos, something Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats seek leverage for trial Davis: Trump vs. Clinton impeachments – the major differences Sharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' MORE has sought to take advantage of heading into November.

"He makes a habit of insulting women," Clinton said Wednesday afternoon at a campaign stop in California, according to CNN. "He seems to have something about women."