Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has officially picked his horse in the GOP presidential primary, Texas Governor Rick Perry, which came as a bit of shock to those familiar with America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff."
Arpaio, as you probably know, is the poster-boy for bootin' brown folks back across the border. Perry, on the other hand, recently told his GOP opponents that people who don't want to offer in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants don't "have a heart."
Those opposite trains of thought tend not to jibe.
We met Arpaio at Sky Harbor International Airport this afternoon as he returned from New Hampshire -- where yesterday he campaigned with Perry -- to discuss his endorsement.
The sheriff seems quite taken by his new pal Perry.
"I think he's the best guy for president. He's really tough on crime, tough on immigration," Arpaio swoons. "He and I spent about 20 hours together -- going to town halls, radio, TV -- I got know him more. I feel more comfortable [with endorsing Perry] now after travleing with him."
The sheriff seems most impressed with how Perry's run Texas since he took the helm from George W. Bush (whom Arpaio also endorsed) when he was elected president in 2000. The fact that Perry is the only GOP candidate who is currently a governor lends to Perry's street cred, according to Arpaio.
"All these other guys are gone [from elected office], they're not in government, except the congressmen [and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann]," Arpaio tells New Times. "But [Perry] is a chief executive officer for the second largest state in the country, Texas, and he's done a good job."
Village Voice Media, New Times' parent company, recently took a look at what Perry's actually done in Texas for an article titled Miracle Faker. Check it out here.
As for Perry's thoughts on his heartless opponents -- and the comment Perry made about giving in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants -- Arpaio says it was just a misunderstanding.
"He apologized for that," the sheriff says. "He never should have said it, but he apologized."
Arpaio says Perry has since taken his border-hawkishness "a little further."
"[Now Perry's] saying that anybody that comes into this country -- doesn't have to be a murderer -- anybody that's here illegally, should be arrested and deported. That's what I've been doing," the sheriff says.
While campaigning with Arpaio in New Hampshire, the Texas governor did take his immigration policy a step further, saying he would support a federal program "to detain and to deport every illegal alien that we apprehend (more on that here)."
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In addition to Perry's new stance on illegal immigration, Arpaio applauds the fact that the governor sent the Texas National Guard, and officers from the state's Department of Public Safety -- as well as a cool $400 million -- to the Texas/Mexico border to curb illegal immigration.
The sheriff, it's safe to say, is happy with his pick, despite Perry's poll numbers continuing to tank (he's currently polling at two-percent in New Hampshire, two-percent in South Carolina, and eight-percent in Florida -- trailing nearly every other GOP candidate, including Texas Congressman Ron Paul).
"I [endorsed Perry] and I stand by it," Arpaio says. "I think if you meet him, you'll be impressed -- he's not a politician in that sense."
Perry bailed on his apparent compassion for immigrant kids -- who he acknowledges were "brought [to America] by no fault of their own" -- so he has a better chance at winning the GOP primary. Sounds like your run-of-the-mill politician, if you ask us.