By Dan Boyd
A crowd of roughly 8,000 people lustily cheered Donald Trump and booed protesters inside the Albuquerque Convention Center on Tuesday night, as other protesters outside clashed with armored police.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee criticized Gov. Susana Martinez, a fellow Republican who has spoken out against Trump in the past and did not attend Tuesday's rally.
"You have to get your governor to get going -- she has to do a better job," Trump said during his hour-long speech, referring to a recent increase in New Mexico food assistance recipients.
He also vowed to return to New Mexico before the November general election.
"We'll be back a lot," Trump told the crowd. "I know this (state) goes a little on the Democratic side, but not with me."
The crowd erupted in applause when Trump took the stage around 7:20 p.m., with many straining to take cellphone pictures of the New York businessman.
Most of Trump's remarks elicited loud cheers, including a reference to the media as "disgusting slime" and a pledge to "knock the hell out of ISIS," the Islamic State terrorist group.
He hopscotched from one issue to another, at one point praising New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a "great guy" and, at another, bragging that he didn't use a teleprompter for his speech.
Trump said he would create jobs, defeat terrorism and save the nation's Social Security program.
He reiterated a controversial plan to construct a border wall along the Mexican border, saying, "Oh, we're going to build a wall."
Trump also repeatedly blasted Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, was stumping in Espanola on Tuesday.
And he took aim at President Barack Obama, who carried New Mexico in 2008 and 2012, saying, "We're suffering at the hands of stupidity and incompetence."
Gov. Martinez was among several top-ranking GOP officials -- including Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez -- who did not attend the Trump rally, the candidate's first campaign stop in the nation's most Hispanic state.
Martinez, who has been noncommittal as to whether she will support Trump this fall, said she was already committed and instead held a business-related news conference in Santa Fe on Tuesday afternoon and met with top staffers to discuss job-creation efforts in the evening.
During his speech, Trump responded to a half-dozen interruptions by protesters inside by telling security officers to "Go ahead, get them out of here!"
One woman was shouting while she was dragged out of the venue, and several others defiantly held signs while being shown the exit.
'Vitriol and hate'
Protesters and supporters started gathering outside the Convention Center by midafternoon, both groups passionate about their positions.
Elaine Baca of Albuquerque said she went to the rally to show Hispanic support for Trump.
"I want to show Trump that Hispanics support him more than the national media says," she said.
But sisters Gianna and Bianca Mendoza stood quietly outside the Convention Center holding signs that read, "I'm a lawyer, not a murderer" and "I'm a teacher, not a rapist."
The women said that their grandparents were immigrants from Mexico who worked hard to give them a good life and that the "vitriol and hate" they hear from the Trump campaign makes them sad for their grandfather, who lives in Las Cruces and speaks only Spanish.
"We owe it to our grandparents" to speak out, Gianna Mendoza said.
Some interactions between Trump supporters and protesters had a sharp edge.
A few protesters yelled "sieg heil," German for "hail victory," a phrase used by Nazis, at Trump supporters as a taunt, while at least one Trump backer shouted racial epithets at protesters.
Supporters had to walk through a gantlet of protesters to get into the center.
Meanwhile, the Governor's Office responded to Trump's criticism late Tuesday by dismissing his remarks as politically motivated and inaccurate.
"The governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans," Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said. "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. She didn't hear anything about that today."
Leading up to Tuesday's rally, the governor's neutral stance had prompted criticism from national and state Democratic Party groups, who accused Martinez of ducking questions about Trump.
New Mexico Republican Party Chairwoman Debbie Maestas and Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis were among the GOP officials who did attend the Trump rally.
Before Tuesday's campaign stop, Trump attended a high-dollar fundraiser in Albuquerque in conjunction with the Republican National Committee.
From Albuquerque, Trump was scheduled to go to Los Angeles for a high-priced fundraiser, according to The Washington Post. Trump is then scheduled to hold campaign rallies in California and Montana later this week.
Journal staff writers Nicole Perez and Maggie Shepard contributed to this story
(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)