Joe Arpaio, the Arizona law enforcement official whose controversial methods have made him a lightning rod in the immigration debate, will endorse Governor Rick Perry for president, according to multiple sources.
NBC reports that Arpaio will campaign with Perry in New Hampshire this week.
The publicity-loving Arpaio, who is sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is known for his high-profile raids on illegal immigrants, and was a proponent of Arizona's hardline immigration law. He proudly touts his practice of forcing prison inmates to wear pink underwear and to work on chain gangs. But he has been dogged by controversy in recent years for both his politics and his aggressive tactics; he is currently under investigation by a grand jury for civil rights violations.
Given his popularity among hardcore conservatives, Arpaio had been wooed by more than one GOP candidate, ABC reports:
Over the past three months, Arpaio has sent short missives over Twitter indicating his courtship by Republican candidates. Arpaio met Rep. Michele Bachmann in September and Herman Cain in October, and he has spoken over the phone with Mitt Romney. In 2008, Arpaio endorsed Romney over Sen. John McCain
The endorsement could give Perry a chance to make amends to Republican voters who were unhappy with his comments during a September debate. Under attack from Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the Texas governor defended his policy of offering the children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition fees, telling his rivals, "If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart." His show of compassion was viewed by many as a misstep that may have hurt his chances with a conservative base that tends to take a zero-tolerance attitude toward illegal immigration.
CNN says Arpaio will join Perry in New Hampshire on Tuesday.