US president Donald Trump has told supporters in the Democratic-leaning state of New Mexico that his energy policies have made the state wealthier, and warned that these gains could disappear if the proposal known as the Green New Deal takes effect.
Mr Trump said in Rio Rancho: “The Democrats want to completely annihilate New Mexico’s economy.”
He also boasted that an oil and gas boom during his administration has helped increase the state’s revenues, saying: “The Democrats will never get the chance because New Mexico will never give them that chance.”
The US leader went to New Mexico, which has not backed a Republican for president since 2004, to try to turn the state red and expand his grip on the electoral college in next year’s presidential election.
“It’s been quite a while since a Republican won this state,” Mr Trump told supporters.
“I think we’re going to do great here. We’re here because we really think we’re going to turn this state and make it a Republican state.”
The rally in suburban Albuquerque is the first stop on a three-day drive which will also take him to California for fundraisers expected to raise more than 15 million dollars (£12 million).
Mr Trump has generally held his rallies in Republican-friendly terrain. Monday’s rally represented a striking departure from that practice and demonstrates a campaign with the resources to try to turn a few Democratic-leaning states his way, similar to what happened in 2016 with Michigan and Wisconsin.
The president captured just 40% of the state vote in 2016, compared to the 48% who went for Hillary Clinton. She did not visit the state during the 2016 campaign.
However, campaign officials say a Donald Trump rally in nearby El Paso, Texas, last February was well attended by female and Hispanic voters and people coming from New Mexico, indicating to them that New Mexico is in play for the Republicans.
Hundreds of people showed up early on Monday to claim a place in the queue ahead of the evening event in Rio Rancho.
Dianna Arvizu, a Texas native who now lives in Albuquerque, was among those in the crowd. She said Mr Trump has a strong chance at capturing New Mexico.
She called his visit “big,” saying: “He’s coming for us in New Mexico because he cares.”
Near Albuquerque city centre, a few hundred Democrats gathered to hold their own rally. US representative Deb Haaland described the president as misogynistic and ego-driven, saying the Democrats will fight to make sure New Mexico stays blue.
“We can roll back Trump, and we can roll back his policies, and we can win New Mexico in 2020,” Ms Haaland said.
Mr Trump’s efforts in New Mexico will provide a test of how well his often-harsh rhetoric about immigrants will play with Hispanic voters, who comprise nearly 40% of New Mexico’s electorate.
He also touted his efforts to build the US-Mexico border wall, saying that his administration plans to have almost 500 miles of it built by the end of 2020.
New Mexico is in the midst of an oil production boom that has boosted employment and spurred a state government spending spree from first-year Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on public education, road projects and tax rebates for film productions.
The Green New Deal calls for virtual elimination by 2030 of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and meeting 100% of US power demand through renewable and zero-emission energy sources, including nuclear power.
The proposal has broad support among Democratic activists and 2020 presidential contenders, putting it at the forefront of the party’s sprawling presidential primary.