- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Republican U.S. House candidate in a crucial New Mexico race said Monday the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump Administration showed a “lack of leadership” during President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.

Speaking to conservative podcast host Daniel Horowitz, former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell said she felt GOP leaders in the House and Senate could have done more to push a conservative agenda from 2017 and 2018. She also faulted the Trump administration for failing to tackle issues that “could have been put to bed.”

Herrell was responding a question Horowitz asked about rising spending and the national debt under Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress before Democrats took over the U.S. House in 2019.

“I think that’s the frustration of it,” Herrell said. “We saw a lack of leadership when we had the House and the Senate and the Administration … We did absolutely nothing, and there are so many issues that could have been put to bed, that we could have addressed, that we haven’t.”

Herrell said she agreed that the federal government had to address it’s spending under Trump. She later praised Trump for his policies.

But the campaign of Claire Chase, Herrell’s opponent in the Republican primary for New Mexico’s southern U.S. Congressional seat, immediately jumped on Herrell’s comments.

“We already knew Yvette lied about her support for President Trump, but for her to attack President Trump’s conservative leadership proves she is not qualified to serve us in Washington,” Chase campaign manager Mike Berg said. “She sounds more like Nancy Pelosi than a Republican candidate for Congress.”

Dakotah Parshall, Herrell’s campaign manager, said Herrell stands behind her remarks on the podcast.

Yvette meant exactly what she said in the interview: too many establishment Republicans in Washington refused to stand with President Trump and support his policies during his first two years in office,” Parshall said.

The remarks come days after Herrell earned top billing at a statewide GOP convention on a two-way Republican primary ballot for the 2nd Congressional District. She won twice as many delegate votes as conservative former oil industry lobbyist Chase.

Both are seeking to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, of Las Cruces, who flipped the historically conservative-leaning district in 2018. Torres Small defeated Herrell by less than 3,000 votes.

During the GOP primary race this year, Herrell and Chase have been trading shots over who is more supportive of Trump. Herrell has repeatedly pointed to old Facebook posts by Chase criticizing Trump. Chase has pointed to an old email from Herrell seeking support for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was running for president against Trump.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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