GOP presidential hopefuls making the fatal mistake of attaching extremists to their campaigns are getting the thumbs down. First, it was Mitt Romney who got anti-immigrant congressman Lamar Smith to support him. Now Gov. Rick Perry has received the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“We believe the Arpaio endorsement is a colossal blunder from which Rick Perry will never recover, and we call on Rick Perry to leave the presidential race,” said Bob Quasius, President of Café con Leche GOP, a Republican group aiming to make America an immigrant-friendly country.
Joe Arpaio is widely detested among Hispanics. He is notorious for abusing prisoners by making them stay in tent cities during Arizona’s extreme heat and wear pink underwear branded “Go Joe” or “Vamos Jose”. He is also well-known for racial profiling and sweeps of Hispanic neighborhoods looking for undocumented.
Arpaio has been sued for unconstitutional jail conditions; the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has been investigating him amid accusations of discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures. In February 2010 Judge John Leonardo of Pima County Superior Court found that Arpaio “misused the power of his office to target members of the (Board of Supervisors) for criminal investigation.” He has had a feud with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa Superior Court, has been accussed of violating election law and of misusing funds (an analysis by the Maricopa County Office of Management and Budget, completed in September, 2010, found Arpaio has misspent almost $100 million in taxpayer dollars over the previous 5 years).
Arpaio’s practices have been criticized by organizations such as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. The editorial board of The New York Times called Arpaio “America’s Worst Sheriff”. Controversial issues surrounding Arpaio have included allegations of racial profiling, in which the ACLU has sued the sheriff.
“Obama has already stated: “We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.” With Rick Perry and Joe Arpaio planning to campaign together, Arpaio’s negative image among Hispanics will become Rick Perry’s negative image as well,” said the president of Café con Leche.
Obama received 67% of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election.
“Despite Obama’s record as the “deporter-in-chief” who has utterly failed to honor his campaign promises on immigration reform, we foresee support for Obama at 2008 levels or better if the eventual GOP nominee is perceived as hostile towards immigrants […] By hitching his star to Joe Arpaio, Rick Perry has effectively torpedoed his campaign, and we respectfully ask Rick Perry to exit the race as he cannot win against Obama. We believe it is critical that the GOP nominee be a credible candidate, not only among Republicans but the general electorate, in order to defeat Obama in the general election,” stated Quasius.