Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is proud of the connection he and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump share, even though growing indications are the alliance could ultimately spell huge problems for both men and the GOP as a whole.
“Timing is perfect right now for a guy like him,” the 84-year-old Maricopa County Sheriff defiantly told Politico of the man who shares his hardline stance on immigration and has vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants if he is elected. “Timing is everything, and he hit on the right timing.”
Arpaio quickly moved to endorse Trump at least partly based on that stance and since then has described the two as “political soulmates” who were actually born on the same day (June 14).
Like Trump, Arpaio is also on the ballot this year and seemingly facing an uphill climb.
He finished the 2012 election with just over half the vote in a crowded field and this election cycle has spent much of his time blasting the Obama administration’s alleged attack on his policies.
Locally, however, reporters have come to find Arpaio’s positions simply don’t carry the kind of cache with voters they once seemed to, with many of the white educated supporters who once stood behind him now having moved far from his corner.
Arpaio was among those leading the charge for Arizona’s now-defunct immigration laws that aggressively targeted immigrants. As recently as 2010, he violated a federal judge’s order by boasting to supporters that he’d locked up as many as 500 immigrants his staffers pulled over “out of spite.”
Since then, Arpaio has ridicled the whole concept of racism in the year 2016 as “overstated.”
“I think there’s a lot of hype,” he added. “Unfortunately, in our country today, you have to be very careful what you say. We do have freedom of speech, but if you say the wrong word, it looks like it makes headlines. So everybody has to be very careful.”
Arpaio is just as adamant when it comes to expressing his support for Trump, recently blasting party leaders for what he characterized as half-hearted and lukewarm endorsements of his candidate.
“I thought when you endorse someone, you usually mention their name,” he said. “We do have some Republicans who don’t know his name. Why would you say the [presidential] office and not say who is running for it? They need to get a few guts to say that.”
Given the way the national voting map is rapidly changing, even Arpaio admits his unabashed support of Trump comes with some peril.
“I know there’s a lot of controversy on the Hispanic vote,” he said. “People are always saying, ‘Oh, you can’t win if you don’t have the Hispanic vote.'”
Indeed, a recent Pew Research survey found 27.3 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in November’s general election, with most of the growth coming from among young U.S.-citizen Hispanics at a time when the issue of immigration is one of the most contentious issues of the entire election season.
That can’t bode well for either Arpaio or Trump and a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll bares that out for the latter.
Pollsters found 89 percent of Latino voters insist they have an unfavorable view of Trump, the highest unfavorable rating he has registered since marking the launch of his campaign by deriding Mexicans as “criminals” and vowing a build a wall along the Mexican border to further keep them out.