Gov. Susana Martinez has a one-word answer for anyone who asks whether she'll run for president: No.
The first-term Republican, in town for a major fundraiser for her re-election campaign hosted by some of the biggest names in the GOP, says she's happy with her current job, and that she feels she owes it to a very specific segment of her constituency to serve out her two terms.
"As the first Hispanic female governor in the country, I have a lot of little girls who come up to me, and they know who I am. They know that I'm the governor. They get big-eyed and they call me by my first name, and I've got to set an example for them and pave a path for them," Martinez said in an interview. "I can't abandon this job and not do it honorably and to the fullest extent possible that benefits them. And so I wouldn't do it because of them."
Martinez was in Washington Tuesday for a fundraiser featuring House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and a trio of possible future White House contenders -- Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was also on the list).
Martinez, a border-state governor who has been critical of the Obama administration's efforts to secure the border with Mexico, also said that while she supports some aspects of the immigration, she has concerns with other areas of the bill -- notably, the pathway to citizenship that undocumented immigrants currently in the United States would win under the current proposal.
"What I want to see come out is certainly securing our border, because otherwise I think all we do is have the next wave after we find a comprehensive solution," Martinez said. "The goal would be legal status for those that are deserving of legal status, not a pathway to citizenship."
"I don't think we should disrespect the people who have done this the right way and have done all the things that the laws require of them to gain citizenship. If those that are here illegally right now want citizenship, then they should move forward in that direction but go to the end of the line. I think there are parts of it that I do support. I prefer a pathway to legal status and not a pathway to citizenship," she added.
A Martinez advisor stressed that the governor would only support a pathway to legal status for those undocumented immigrants who go to the back of the line. Martinez singled out immigrants who come to the U.S. on educational visas and those who came with their parents as children as examples of residents who shouldn't get the boot.
"We're very open to immigration, but immigration doesn't always necessarily mean citizenship. Some people don't want to change their citizenship. But we shouldn't have kids coming on a visa, for example a student visa, and then saying you've got to go back home. We want to keep them. Let them stay here and have legal status," she said.
No significant Democratic candidates have announced they will challenge the popular Martinez in next year's elections. Democrats' best hope, state Auditor Hector Balderas, said earlier this year he would run for attorney general rather than against Martinez.
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