POLITICS
03/18/2016 02:40 pm ET

Bernie Sanders: Sheriff Joe Arpaio 'Ambushed' My Wife

The two had an encounter at Arpaio's "Tent City" jail this week.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) accused Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been viciously tough on undocumented immigrants, of ambushing his wife earlier this week.

The Democratic presidential candidate's wife, Jane, visited Arpaio's "Tent City" jail on Monday to highlight the inhumane conditions of the facility and to meet with undocumented families there. While she was there, a reporter told her Arpaio was at the facility and wanted to meet with her.

Arpaio soon appeared while she was speaking with reporters. Sanders pressed Arpaio, who has endorsed Republican Donald Trump, on the brutal conditions of Tent City, where temperatures can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. She also asked about racial profiling in Arizona. Sanders said Arpaio had no answers to her questions. Despite their disagreement, the interaction between the two sounded remarkably civil.

But during a rally on Thursday, the Democratic presidential candidate said his wife had been "ambushed," according to The New York Times.  

“She asked him about conditions in Tent City and other abuses that he has perpetuated, and he didn’t have an answer. You know what, he cannot have an answer, because what he is doing is un-American and uncivilized," Sanders said at a rally in Flagstaff, according to the Times.

During an interview with 12News, Sanders also called out Arpaio for surprising his wife.

"My wife went to look at the so-called Tent City, which is something that should not exist. The fact that he crashed her meeting, to me, is very, very wrong, not something that he should have done," he said.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a Clinton supporter, attacked Jane Sanders for meeting with Arpaio and said she had not been aggressive enough with him and should have told him to resign.

The senator said Thursday that what Arpaio was doing to undocumented immigrants was "outrageous and unconscionable."

"It is easy for bullies like Sheriff Arpaio to pick on people who have no power. But if I'm elected president, the president of the United States does have the power. Watch out, Joe," Sanders said.

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