After Bernie Sanders' wife took a tour of Maricopa County's Tent City Jail with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, critics today accused her of acting as a "prop" in the spread of racist propaganda.
Among the naysayers was Democratic U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego, who, in a Facebook post, advised Jane Sanders "to take a less naive approach" to promoting her husband's policies if she "is serious about winning over Latino voters in Arizona."
Gallego is an announced Hillary Clinton supporter.
"The Sanders campaign played into one of the easiest and most damaging cliches in Arizona politics: going to Sheriff Joe Arpaio to get news coverage," Gallego wrote."While I am deeply concerned for the treatment of prisoners and the documented targeting of Latinos by Arpaio’s office, I also know that attempting to 'confront' Arpaio in front of news cameras only gives him what he wants.
"Like Donald Trump, Joe Arpaio is fueled by controversy played out over surface-level, sensationalized news coverage. In their own attempt to get short-term media attention ahead of Arizona’s primary, the Sanders campaign only strengthened Arpaio’s disastrous hold over the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."
The rights group Puente planned Jane Sanders' visit to the infamous jail — where prisoners live in canvas tents, wear pink underwear, and eat meatless meals — as part of a larger event designed to draw attention to racial profiling and the incarceration of undocumented immigrants.
Sanders initially was supposed to take a look from the outside. But Arpaio, facing a federal contempt-of-declaration (along with three of his commanders) for violating a judge's ruling not to enforce immigration law, caught wind of her visit, showed up, and invited her to come inside the complex.
As Arpaio's men ushered her toward the gate, Puente organizers, who previously expressed a desire to avoid the sheriff, protested — to no avail.
Arpaio, never one to miss an opportunity for press, tweeted about it, setting off a social media firestorm.
Jane Sanders came to tents jail, so I invited her inside so I could defend my tent policy. Now waiting for Hillary. pic.twitter.com/bQfvWQ1nhN— Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) March 15, 2016
Some called it a gaffe.
You know what's weird? Sanders is courting Republicans in AZ. I mean Jane w/ Joe Arpaio? Seriously @SenSanders ?— Gary York (@GareBearEsq) March 15, 2016
Mrs. Sanders is now a prop on Joe Arpaio's racist Twitter feed. https://t.co/D1eG42JKHp— AlGiordano (@AlGiordano) March 15, 2016
And she's just nodding there like a bobblehead while Arpaio puts on his racist show. https://t.co/hivfVJLuv5— AlGiordano (@AlGiordano) March 15, 2016
Bernie Sanders says "Jane pushed back on Arpaio's inhumane treatment of prisoners". Here's what that looked like: pic.twitter.com/08TZwPeFZr— ProChoice Sneak (@word_34) March 15, 2016
Others seized the opportunity to plug for Democratic front-runner Clinton.
If @HillaryClinton ever visits Joe Arpaio it will be with her AG and a warrant.— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) March 15, 2016
Another ad for Hillary to cut in Spanish, Jane Sanders & Joe Arpaio— Jean (@setislady) March 15, 2016
Sanders got on Twitter to declare that she did not intend to visit with Arpaio.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio showed up unexpectedly and I asked him several questions to which he had no answers.— Jane O'Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) March 15, 2016
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He admitted that the temperature in the tents were up to 130 degrees in the summer. He told me he took all meat out of the prisoner's meals.— Jane O'Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) March 15, 2016
Some jumped to her defense.
Sounds like Arpaio ambushed Jane Sanders.— Armando (@armandodkos) March 15, 2016
Think a pass is in order.