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Arpaio on Trump and Being “An Equal Opportunity Incarcerator”

Arpaio at Trump rally

Sheriff Joe Arpaio displayed his naive views on the border wall and the danger of Donald at a controversial conference in Phoenix.

No matter what happens, there are two things Sheriff Joe Arpaio won’t change his mind about.

1) He won’t resign, even if he’s accused of criminal contempt of court.

2) He’s totally “hooked with” Donald Trump, who “does a lot of good.”

So said the sheriff on April 30 at the Society for Professional Journalists conference, where he was the keynote speaker in a Q&A session with E.J. Montini, the Arizona Republic’s liberal columnist. 

“If you have a question, please raise your hand, and one of the sheriff’s security guards will come over and tase you.” – E.J. Montini

Montini kept the tone light and polite; the hard-hitting questions mostly came from the audience. Still, the interview shed light on how Arpaio thinks – or rather, how he doesn’t think.

For example, this is what Arpaio said about Trump:

“I’ve met a lot of people running on a campaign, but this guy’s different. I see him more as a person. To get a little personal, my wife is sick. And when I was downtown here before we went to Fountain Hills, I told him. And he picked up that phone and called my wife for six minutes. Now, he doesn’t have to hook me like politicians by using the wife to get to me. I’m already hooked with him, OK? And then the election which Cruz lost, he called my wife again, for seven minutes, [and said] ‘If you want my airplane…’ This guy does a lot of good. They weren’t lies. It comes from his heart, OK?… I flew in his airplane for two hours. You sit next to a guy for two hours, you have a chance to really talk. He is a nice guy, all right? So I’m hooked with him, I endorse him, and nobody can make me change my mind.”

Not since George W. Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw a trustworthy soul have we witnessed such political naiveté. 

“I love the inmates. I could get 50 percent of the vote, if they could vote.” – Joe Arpaio

That wasn’t the only shallow thinking in evidence. A reporter in the audience asked what Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America great again,” meant to Arpaio. It sparked an interesting exchange:

Arpaio: “I tell you, we need a change. Not for sheriff. We need a change today in this country. I know [Trump has] talked about the wall.”

Montini: “We know that’s bullshit. You have to know he’s not going to build that wall.”

Arpaio: “You wanna bet on that?”

Montini: “Yes, I absolutely do want to bet on that.”

Arpaio: “We need a change. I’m a little angry about what’s happening in my party. We have a guy fair and square who’s out there getting the votes, and they want to stop him – our own party, stop him. What are they afraid of? Because he’s not taking all these donations and nobody owes him anything? Is that what they’re afraid of?”

Reporter: “So how does that make America great again?”

Arpaio: “Because we need a change in this country. We’ve got immigration problems, crime problems, drug problems, economic problems…  So I think he’s one guy who can maybe swing the pendulum. OK?”

Montini also asked if Arpaio would resign if accused of criminal contempt of court over the Melendres v. Arpaio racial profiling ruling. The sheriff responded with, well, contempt:

Arpaio: “Well, if it goes that way, it goes that way. But I’m not resigning. Are you kidding? This is a contempt charge… Why would I resign? I’m going for four more, and then I’ll decide after that whether I do it again. If people want to bring my age [83] up, be my guest. I’ve been through seven elections, it’ll be seven. I survived them all, OK? And I’m gonna survive this one too. I think this one I’m a little stronger now than years gone by. I work hard, I don’t surrender, I don’t leave this job… I think a lot of those people that don’t like me, they don’t hate me personally… I get along with a lot of people. I’m a nice guy. But it’s maybe my policies.”

Montini: “Exactly. That’s what I don’t like about you.”

Naturally, the topic of chain gangs came up, and the sheriff responded with characteristic braggadocio:

Arpaio: “I still have the only female chain gang in the history of the world. Twelve years. I’m an equal opportunity incarcerator. You do not discriminate against women. Right, Hillary?… Thirty-nine TV stations came from around the world when I said, ‘I’m going to put women on a chain gang.’”

Finally, a reporter in the audience asked, “In all of your years of service, do you have any regrets?”

Arpaio: “You know my favorite song is Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way.’ … I have no regrets. I really don’t. My whole life, I would do it over again. I look in the mirror, and I feel secure and safe with myself.”