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Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, speaking during a virtual campaign training, shows supporters the new Trump campaign mobile app.

Candidates for Congress and the state Legislature aren’t the only ones in New Mexico who have shifted to virtual campaign work during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is holding videoconference trainings to encourage New Mexicans to register to vote and support the president in the November election.

On a virtual training call for New Mexicans on Thursday night, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told supporters the Trump reelection efforts represent the “largest Republican footprint in New Mexico’s history” and “the first time since 2004 that the RNC has had a significant presence in your state.”

“We can win if we work together, if we’re united, if we remember that we’re against Democrats, and that we need to elect Republicans,” McDaniel said. “If we look at Nancy Pelosi every day — put a picture of her on your fridge, with her ice cream — this is how we’re going to win and we can do this in New Mexico.”

McDaniel was referring to Pelosi’s recent appearance on a late-night TV show in which she displayed a stockpile of gourmet ice cream. The Trump campaign later released an advertisement on the web called “Let them eat ice cream,” likening Pelosi to 18th-century French Queen Marie Antoinette.

Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee made up of the Trump campaign and the RNC, has held 100 virtual trainings in New Mexico and contacted 63,000 voters through phone calls since its operations turned virtual amid the coronavirus health crisis, McDaniel said.

Since last year, Trump has vowed to win New Mexico’s five electoral votes in the presidential election in November. He repeated the comment during a campaign rally in September in Rio Rancho.

But no Republican presidential candidate has won the state since George W. Bush’s reelection 16 years ago.

On Friday, the campaign for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, pushed back on the notion that Trump could win the state.

“New Mexicans already rejected President Trump and his divisive and irresponsible policies once and they’ll do it again in November,” a Biden campaign spokesman said. “Look no further than Trump’s serious mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected thousands of New Mexico families for why they are craving new leadership in the White House.”

The Biden campaign also pointed out that practically every major Democratic elected official in New Mexico has endorsed Biden, including both U.S. senators, two members of Congress and state House Speaker Brian Egolf.

On Friday, 40 more political leaders in the state announced they were endorsing the former vice president, including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and dozens of Democratic state legislators, according to a campaign statement.

The Biden campaign is also holding virtual meetings in New Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, it planned to host two “Soul of the Nation” events, one geared toward Albuquerque residents and the other for Santa Feans, to discuss community support during the health crisis and how people can “can get involved with the campaign moving forward.”

The state Democratic Party said it has adapted its operations in light of the pandemic as well. It has organized “phone bank” efforts to encourage Democrats to vote in the June primary. The party also put up a “Campaigning During COVID-19” website through which candidates have hosted events and the party has held trainings.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for campaigns everywhere, but it hasn’t changed the fact that New Mexicans are fired up about putting a Democrat in the White House in 2020,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Marg Elliston said Friday. The party “is tackling these challenges head on with smart solutions that allow us to stay in touch with voters and continue to build on that enthusiasm.”

On the Trump campaign training call, McDaniel drew a comparison between the campaign’s 2020 efforts in New Mexico and Trump’s 2016 bid in Michigan, where he unexpectedly won. She said the Trump campaign could do the same in New Mexico this year if people follow through on get-out-the-vote efforts.

“Everybody thought that we were a state that couldn’t be won, probably like people say to you in New Mexico,” said McDaniel, who previously was chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. “I know that every volunteer and every person that made that difference, that made that call, that talked to their neighbor — they made a difference in us winning that state and electing President Trump.”

Mari Spinelli, an Albuquerque volunteer who was on the Trump training call Thursday, said she has made over 1,000 calls to potential voters in New Mexico as a “voter registration agent.”

Spinelli, who used to be a registered Democrat, said she switched party lines after supporting Trump in 2016 and got involved with the 2020 campaign after the president’s Rio Rancho rally last year.

“It aligns a lot more with my values, and a lot more with who I am and what I think the direction New Mexico and the country should be going in,” she said.

Steve Sunderlin, an engineer from Taos who is also a Trump campaign volunteer, said he talks to residents about the COVID-19 crisis on his calls and makes sure they’re registered to vote.

“There’s a lot of energy,” said Sunderlin, 51. “People want to get back to where we were before the crisis.”

Trump campaign training was aimed at getting supporters ready for a “National Weekend of Action” starting Friday, in which they planned to make calls to New Mexicans and encourage them to register to vote.

On the Trump call Thursday, organizers gave a presentation saying voter registration would be a key to success in the state for Trump and other Republican candidates.

One slide noted Trump lost New Mexico by 65,567 votes in 2016, an average of 1,987 votes per county, and that Republican Yvette Herrell lost the 2nd Congressional District race in 2018 by only 3,722 votes, or an average of 196 votes per county.

“Increasing GOP voter registration helps us win more elections,” the slide said.

The presentation also noted voter registration was a key part of former President Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

“The campaign assembled a nationwide program that greatly expanded the electorate by focusing on registering new voters as well as former voters who had been discouraged by the political process,” one slide read.

McDaniel said New Mexico is “important” to Trump’s reelection bid and “heavily” in play for this year’s presidential election.

“I cannot thank you enough for what you’re doing,” she told supporters on the call.


Jens Gould covers politics for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He was a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Mexico City, a regular contributor for TIME in California, and produced the video series Bravery Tapes.

(13) comments

Dottie Butler

Bring it on!

Spend (waste) all your time, money, and manpower here.

You're toast no matter what you do, so why not?

Knock yourself out.

Carolyn DM

LMAO!! Dream on, moron!! NM certainly has its share of stupid people, but they are not the majority!!

Amy Earle

Dream on Trump. NM is a blue state. Yes we’ve got pockets of Trumpsters in parts of the state but they are too small in number to turn a blue state red. It’s not going to happen. The way it’s going for Trump now he’s likely to loose the rust belt, and even Florida. Enough with the social experiment of a reality TV personality as POTUS. It’s failed. Adios and good riddance.

paul pacheco

That’s why New Mexico is LAST in all the good things and FIRST in all the bad things! Including pay rates for politicians! How smart are your children?

Brad Doubles

For all of the doubters, I would simply like to remind you all that NOBODY in your main stream media polled Trump to beat Hillary....remember?

So perhaps Trump will not turn NM the color it needs to be to eventually be a successful state. BUT, anyone who simply counts Trump out in Nov because of blind, ideological hate is setting themselves up for a repeat history lesson.....

Jeffrey Thompson

I completely agree! All the Democrat voters better not sit back and figure that Trump will lose.

Jeffrey Thompson

It's important to be a proactive thinker but, please, don't count your chickens before they hatch. We all thought Trump would not get elected the first time too.

B. Rosen

The GOP isn’t going to take NM, ...at the rate they’re going, they could even lose TX, FL, AZ, and NC. A few more of those unhinged press conferences and someone might finally use Article 25.

Ed Li

52k Americans dead, unemployment rate at Great Depression levels.....Keep dreaming covidiot trash.

Anonymous Coward

Depression unemployment levels are the direct result of stay at home orders. In NM none other than our governor is totally responsible for that. She is on TV, in print and on radio taking credit.

She is toast now that she extended the say at home "orders" until May 15th. Twenty days from now there will be very angry people in this state, angry for what has been done to them.

Once the economic well being of our state has been destroyed, so are the Democrats. The COVID-19 body count in NM is under 100, and we are what, week six. By the time she receives orders from the party that she can lift the orders, it will be too late.

I have income, so I'll be just fine, but I stand for the common good, not just myself. I stand with the people of NM and our future, and the common good is not destroying thousands of people's lives based on nothing but egotism. Our governor does not have a plan. She gives the impression that she has no idea what she is doing. If she did, we'd know about it. What we get is crafted political rhetoric dumped down to about an 8 year olds level.

Lots of people are going hungry in NM, they have no cash. Some are selling their personal property to pay the bills and survive. Others are depleting their retirement accounts and savings. Others face bankruptcy, defaulting on their mortgages, facing vehicle reposition, and seeing their lives disintegrate. People in their 50s will find it very hard after losing their jobs finding anything equal or better. The working poor are not in dire straights. This is just a few things.

The governor made a mistake, just like some other governors. She should admit it and change course. There is no reason healthy people, taking precautions, cannot be working. Any job that people work to take care of themselves is essential.

COVID-19 is a political disease. Democrats and media are using it to destroy Trump, that is about how much they actually care about the common people.

Carolyn DM

Wow!! You're still stuck in your bucket of ignorance. No wonder you don't use your real name. I'd be incredibly ashamed too!

Anthony Ortiz

Carolyn, do you have the intellectual capacity to respond to others without name calling? Sad.

Orlie Romero

Wonder what DM stands for? Dim W#|++

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