President Trump held a rally just 17 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday, Sept. 16, where thousands of people were gathered at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho to hear the president speak.

The president lost New Mexico by 8 percentage points in 2016, but the crowd showed up early Monday to claim a place in line ahead of the rally and chanted “Four more years” to the president during the event.

The president told voters that his energy policies have made the state wealthier as much of the state’s income is derived from oil and gas, but warned that the Green New Deal backed by Democratic activists and 2020 presidential candidates could ravage those gains.

“The Democrats want to completely annihilate New Mexico’s economy,” he said. “The Democrats will never get the chance because New Mexico will never give them that chance.”

New Mexico hasn’t backed a Republican for president since 2004 and the state’s Washington delegation today is entirely Democratic. The state ranks in the bottom six overall for a sixth straight year, faring poorly on quality of life metrics, a product of comparatively low school test scores, and high crime, according to Forbes.

“If you want to stop the drug smugglers, human traffickers, and vicious MS-13 gang members from threatening our communities and poisoning our youth, you have only one choice—you must elect more REPUBLICANS!” President Trump tweeted after the rally.

As of July 2019, New Mexico’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 6.4% in January 2017, as reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Deninis Roch, a rural school district superintendent who served as a Republican in the state House for a decade before retiring last year, said the state’s Republican Party has gained the spotlight with anti-crime initiatives, an affinity for the military, and an anti-tax fervor for less-restrictive government that appeals to the state’s frontier ethos.

“It could go for Trump—there are a lot of people in the east end of the state that are very passionate about Second Amendment rights,” Roch said. “There are people on the southern end that are affected in a real way by border security.”

The state’s urban-rural political divide has been on prominent display as sheriffs in dozens of counties this year threatened not to enforce new gun control measures, including background checks on most private gun sales, from the Democratic-led Legislature.

An El Paso, Texas, native who now lives in Albuquerque, Dianna Arvizu, called the president’s visit “big” and said “he is coming for us in New Mexico because he cares.”

Includes reporting from the Associated Press

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