Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Endorse Rick Perry Next Week

Nov 26, 2011 7:54pm

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” will endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry next week, a source with knowledge of the endorsement told ABC News.

Arpaio espouses a hard-line stance on illegal immigration, leading raids to round up and jail illegal immigrants, and was a major proponent of the controversial Arizona immigration law. Perry has spoken with Arpaio several times over the phone since entering the presidential race.

Arpaio, a much sought after endorsement in the GOP field, plans to campaign with Perry in New Hampshire next week, the source said. The Texas governor will be in the Granite State Tuesday and Wednesday, holding three town halls and a breakfast at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce along with speaking at the New Hampshire State House.

Perry, who touts himself as the only candidate with firsthand experience in dealing with border security, encountered backlash from Republican voters after a statement he made in a September debate suggesting that those who oppose the education of illegal immigrants “don’t have a heart.”

Perry has since walked back that statement, saying on several occasions that it was “inappropriate” and “insulting.”

As Texas governor, Perry signed a voter ID law, vetoed a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and sent $400 million to the border in the form of Texas Ranger reconnaissance teams.

Unlike the rest of the Republican field, Perry opposes the construction of a fence along the entire U.S-Mexico border. Instead, Perry says the fences should be concentrated in metropolitan areas.

During Texas’ last legislative session, Perry attempted to pass a law that banned sanctuary cities, even setting it as an “emergency” item, but the bill failed to pass in the state legislature’s special session this summer.

Over the past three months, Arpaio has sent short missives over Twitter indicating his courtship by Republican candidates. Arpaio met Rep. Michele Bachmann in September and Herman Cain in October, and he has spoken over the phone with Mitt Romney. In 2008, Arpaio endorsed Romney over Sen. John McCain.

Arpaio adopts a tough stance on crime and punishment, which includes housing prisoners in tents, making them wear pink underwear and putting them to work on chain gangs.

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