PHOENIX (AP) — If you’re running for president, how do you convince supporters you are tough enough on immigration? Get the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America whose uncompromising stand on illegal immigration is a point of pride.

On Wednesday Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was the latest Republican presidential candidate hoping for Arpaio’s backing. She met in Phoenix with the Republican sheriff, whose endorsement is frequently sought by candidates in all types of races across the country.

Arpaio said he hasn’t yet decided which candidate he will back in the GOP primary race.

Bachmann, who was in Arizona for campaign fundraisers, focused almost entirely on immigration during the three minutes she talked to reporters. She then went into a private meeting with Arpaio.

“As president of the United States, I want to solve the border issue,” Bachmann said, noting that the nation’s immigration problems extend beyond the southern border states. “I want to build the fence that needs to be built and I want to solve this problem.”

She said she would also eliminate inducements for illegal immigration into the U.S.

Bachmann wouldn’t say whether she supports Arizona’s tough immigration enforcement law. A federal judge put the most controversial elements of the law on hold after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate it.

“I know that as president of the United States, I would not be suing the state of Arizona,” Bachmann said. “I would be fulfilling the commitment that the federal government needs to fulfill, and that is to secure our borders.”

Arpaio’s campaign manager, Chad Willems, said Bachmann has called the sheriff several times, but she isn’t the only presidential hopeful to do so. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have made calls of their own.

“They’re all calling him,” Willems said, adding that Arpaio will take his time to decide on an endorsement. “They’re all in a hurry, of course.”

In the 2008 primary race. the sheriff endorsed Romney over home-state candidate John McCain. Romney came in second, behind McCain, who won the state’s 2008 primary.

Arpaio, a proven favorite of voters in the county that includes Phoenix, is well-known for his office’s crackdown on illegal immigration, which has included conducting numerous raids on workplaces.

However, unrelated, failed investigations targeting county officials and judges were conducted by Arpaio’s office and are now under scrutiny for ethics violations.

Bachmann wasn’t the only candidate talking immigration with Arizona voters. In Tucson on Wednesday, a crowd of business owners frustrated by the red tape required to bring in highly educated workers asked Bachmann’s rival, Mitt Romney, how he would approach legal immigration.

Romney said he would give first priority to foreign workers with graduate degrees. “I want people coming into the country with skills and experience, speaking English, with degrees and contributing to our culture and the capacity of our nation,” Romney said, adding that legal immigrants often start their own businesses.

He said he doesn’t want the uneducated or unskilled coming across the border or overstaying their visas, expecting the United States to provide them with education and health care. Later, though, he noted that people from other countries come to the United States looking for opportunities for their families. “They don’t come here for handouts,” he said.

Later Wednesday Romney told an audience in Sun Lakes, Ariz., that he’d build a border fence and impose heavy sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

“Let’s protect legal immigration and make it work for America and the families that come here legally,” he told an audience in Sun Lakes, Ariz.

“I will stop illegal immigration,” Romney promised, adding later, “It’s time to do it.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (29)
  1. C N Red says:

    Bachmann…. hmmmm that sounds German to me…. make sure you carry your birth certificate or US passport to prove you are not an illegal immigrant or else Sheriff Joe will be the one to deport you….

    What a kiss up! \/\/TF does Michelle know about immigrants or immigration – she needs to stop sucking up to Sheriff Joe.

    What a dopus

    1. billy says:

      I second that!

      I’m just waiting to hear BREAKING NEWS = Bachmann has dropped out of the presidential race. It is only a matter of time.

  2. Abby says:

    Wish we had Joe here.

  3. G Dog says:

    Please Joe – arrest her and hold her until she can produce a Martian birth certificate!

  4. Jake says:

    Of course she knows immigration. She can see Canada from her house!

  5. dan says:

    So isnt immigration reform one of the hot topics of this campaign? It seem to make sense that all the candidates would seek out border expertise.

    This is a lot better idea than Obama’s apology tour to Europe before he became president

  6. kevin says:

    WCCO, you have deleated every comment I have posted for the last three days. Are you so left wing that my comments will never be posted?

    1. G Dog says:

      Try being rational, Kevin. Like last Wednesday when you hung up on Chad Hartman.

  7. Minnie says:

    Bachmann will get a pass on showing her papers because Arpaio only hates Hispanics. And I do mean ALL Hispanics. It doesn’t matter if they’ve got papers or not. He holds them all in contempt. Even those whose familial roots go back to the days when sitting on your front porch in Tombstone meant you were sitting in Mexico.

    Oh, I will correct this statement a bit. If you speak out against Joe, he’ll trump up charges and throw you in jail. He’s done this to high ranking Maricopa County officials and state of Az dept. heads that have tried to hold him accountable. Millions have been paid out in lawsuits becuase of the county having to settle matters.

    1. Deputy Joe says:

      Most people do hate hispanics..what excatly is your point? that we all should embrace multi-culturalism at the expense of destroying our country?

      1. Minnie says:

        What do you mean “your country?” Isn’t it their country, too? How is Gunderson more American than Garcia? Garcia has probably always been here while Gunderson had to come over on a boat. Ever hear of Los Angeles? El Paso? NEW Mexico? Those names weren’t chosen at random. Where do you think the idea for Taco Bell came from?

        “Most people do hate hispanics.” Wow, that’s prejudiced. So you hate my kids, huh? You don’t even know my kids. You hate my husband? Is he your boss? Hmm, el jefe? You don’t like taking orders from a tan man? Or are you jealous because his family carried down the language of their ancestors and he’s bilingual? Or that he married a Caucasian?

        So you’ve met every single Hispanic person in the US? Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Martin Sheen, Gov. Bill Richardson, Governor Sandoval of Nevada? Hope you got their autographs.

        It is against the law to racially profile and that is exactly what Joe Arpaio does. Walking down the street while tan in Phoenix is not a crime. And given that AZ has a 40% Hispanic populace, it’s kinda likely that you’re gonna see some tan people.

        Oktoberfests are now being held across the country. That is embracing multi-cutluralism. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here in the US because we accept all people. We’re America. And guess who was here to greet those German and Irish settlers that brought over those traditions? The Hispanics. The oldest, continuously occupied city in the US is St. Augustine, FL, founded by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. Yeah, the Spanish language is that old in this country.

        And if you’re under the mistaken belief that Hispanic means Mexican or is Spanish for “immigrant”, then you’re incredibly ignorant and even I can’t help you. If you’re also under the belief that that my kids and my husband are immigrants because they’re Hispanic, you’re wrong again. They were all born in Joe Arpaio’s state – Arizona. And the last person to have had someone in their ancestry come to the US from elsewhere, it isn’t my husband. It’s me. It was my ancestors that came over from Ireland in the 1830s. My husband’s family has always been here. They pre-date the pilgrims.

        Quit being a bigot. Xenophobia is bad for the heart rate.

      2. Max says:

        Multi-culturalism built our country. Does your lack of knowledge of history feed your bigotry or is it the other way around??

  8. Former Az resident says:

    Michele Bachmann has obviously had a bad Gardasil shot reaction.

  9. quentin says:

    Busy. Busy. Thursday she meets with David Duke and Mel Gibson.

    1. Former Az resident says:

      Snap, crackle and pop!

  10. Murph says:

    If she goes bi polar on him,we may not see her again for quite while! I wish all the GOP cry babies move to a quaint little Mexican village.Maybe the quiet little place called Kwitchirbichen!

    1. Richard in Minneapolis says:

      “Kwitchirbichen”… I think there is a town in upper Bavaria (Oberbayern) by that name.

    2. Comrade Lenin and Chairman Mao says:

      Comrade Murph-

      Your usually intelligent writings seem to have become rambling and incoherent. Do not let EVIL Michele and the uncaring Republicans get to you. I know recent victories by the GOP are maddening for you, but try and stay focused on your goal of defeating capitalism and establishing a new world based on Marxism.

      If you do comrade, someday we will have a world with no more rich and no more poor. Only workers in a workers state and people like Michele in labor or reeducation camps!

      Power to the proletariat!

      Comrade Lenin and Chairman Mao

  11. S says:

    How are you going to pay for that fence Michele? And how exactly do you propose to keep people from digging underneath it?

  12. Anita Mann says:

    BWCA fires – God’s message to Michele Bachmann.

  13. Go for it Joe says:

    Joe should run, He would win

    1. snowman says:

      Arpaio is the most bigoted cop in the nation!,But then you raciist Minnesotans wouldnt care

  14. A Voter says:

    If I heard Perry correctly Bachmann will have to build a fence around the entire state of Texas.

  15. Sue J says:

    Send them all back!!!!

    1. snowman says:

      Lady, You are a racist!

    2. Minnie says:

      Send all who back? Back to where? You send my family back and they’re just going to Tucson. Got some news for you, Sue — Hispanics have been in the US longer than anybody else except native Americans. Where do you think town names like Gonzales, LA or Santa Fe, NM come from? Quit forming your views of the world from your front porch.

  16. Sarah says:

    WCCO, stop reporting anything regarding Ms. Bachmann. She is not newsworthy!

  17. Give me liberty says:

    Republicans pick up Weiner’s seat in heavily Democratic NY district.

    Obama’s exit clock is ticking. Tick, tock, tick, tock…..

    Arpaio will make a fine head of the Dept of Homeland Security.

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