New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez took center stage at the Republican National Convention yesterday, recounting how she switched political parties in 1995.
"I was a Democrat for many years. So were my parents," she said. But then two Republicans invited her and her husband, Chuck Franco, to lunch to discuss issues such as welfare, size of government, and small businesses.
"They never used the words Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal ... And when we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, 'I'll be damned. We're Republicans.'"
Martinez was elected district attorney of the 3rd Judicial District of New Mexico in 1996. She was elected governor of New Mexico in 2010, becoming the first U.S. Hispanic female to govern a state.
Sprinkling Spanish in her speech, Martinez also spoke about growing up in a border town and helping out in the family business, which was a security guard enterprise.
"We literally had no savings. But they always believed in the American dream," she said. "I guarded the parking lot at the Catholic church bingos. Now my dad made sure I could take care of myself. I carried a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum. Yes, that gun weighed more than I did. My parents grew that small business from one 18-year-old guarding a bingo to more than 125 employees in three states."
The governor also admitted that she and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney do not see eye to eye on all matters, but she affirmed her support for him, saying that the two shared one important belief.
"In many ways, Mitt Romney and I are very different. Different starts in life. Different paths to leadership. Different cultures," Martinez said. "But we've each shared in the promise of America, and we share a core belief that the promise of America must be kept for the next generation. El sueno Americanos es tener exito. It's success. Success is the American Dream."
Watch her speech here.
For a transcript of her prepared remarks, click here.
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