'America’s Toughest Sheriff' to endorse Rick Perry for U.S. President

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sheriff Joe Arpaio in February 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.
Governor Rick Perry in October 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff for Maricopa County, Arizona, is expected to endorse Republican Party presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry of Texas this week at a New Hampshire campaign event, according to sources. Arpaio is expected to appear with Perry in Hudson, New Hampshire today, and will remain in the state for three days.

Arpaio, who refers to himself as "America’s Toughest Sheriff", is known for his tough stance on illegal immigration. As Sheriff, he has led raids to gather and arrest illegal immigrants and publicly supported Arizona's stringent 2010 immigration law. GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Mitt Romney have all sought his endorsement. He endorsed Romney in 2008.

The endorsement could help Perry with conservative voters who have had problems with his record on illegal immigration. Perry was attacked for signing a bill that granted in-state tuition benefits to college-age illegal immigrants. He defended the bill during a September presidential debate, saying those criticizing him for it, "don’t have a heart". He later backed down from the statement.

As Governor of Texas for eleven years, Perry has overseen the state that has the longest border with Mexico. He vetoed a bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to receive driver's licenses and signed another that requires identification to vote.

During his presidential campaign, Perry has opposed the proposed full-length border fence, calling it impractical. Instead, he favors targeted fencing combined with mobilization of enforcement personnel.