Meet America's most controversial law enforcer
Elected Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the polarizing Arizona anti-illegal-immigration crusader who is regularly accused of civil rights violations, also happens to be a leading "birther" who has used taxpayer money to send a deputy to Hawaii for an ongoing "investigation" of Barack Obama's birth certificate. He spoke at the convention's Foreign Press Center on Wednesday - to an audience consisting of numerous Mexican reporters.
Arpaio set up a "Tent City" as a jail facility, proudly uses chain gangs, and sells pink underwear. So, uh, he's a colourful fellow. Here was his very Arpaio-like answer Wednesday when he was asked if he thinks he's seen as an embarrassment to the Republican Party:
And here's how he responded when I asked him if the Obama stuff is a distraction. Apologies for the muddled section in the middle - I accidentally cut out the part where he said the word "murderers."
Among the highlights of his speech and Q-and-A session:
- "Once you climb over, you should go to jail. Because just sendin' 'em back and they come back again and again and again...you wanna hop the fence, you go to jail, and there'll be a big deterrent. Now there's no deterrent. You get a free ride back - in fact they ride better than Southwest that I go. I got peanuts! When they get transported back to Mexico, they get good food!"
- "I got the Justice Department saying we racially profile. We don't racially profile. I'm an equal opportunity guy: I lock everybody up. I don't care where they're from: if they violate the law, they're goin' to jail."
- "I got more done (as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent) in Mexico with blueberry pie and whiskey than a big stick. That's how ya do it. Get things done. Mutual respect."
- On how the US can help with Mexico's drug-related violence violence: "Let's send our military across. Bilateral, and I emphasize this, only if the Mexican goernment agreed to do it. I'm not talking about raiding Mexico. [...] Nobody will talk about that. I think it's common sense to talk about it. We send the Army into Afghanistan and all these countries..."