On Thursday, Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward has decided to distance herself from her primary rival, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, after he resurfaced and debunked claims that former President Obama was not born in the United States.
“I believe that Barack Obama was born here, that he was our legitimate president,” Ward declared on CNN’s “New Day.”
AZ Senate candidate Kelli Ward is not going to “go down a rabbit hole” discussing former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Her rival in the Republican primary, Joe Arpaio, called it a “phony document.” https://t.co/PvZ6nl9gH3
— New Day (@NewDay) January 11, 2018
Ward’s statement follows shortly after Arpaio repeated in an interview with WABC’s Rita Cosby the false claim that Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent, suggesting Congress should pass a law requiring that such documents be closely examined.
On Tuesday, 85-year-old Arpaio announced on Twitter that he will be entering the GOP primary and compete with Ward for the seat now occupied by Senator Jeff Flake, who told reporters to write about Arpaio’s campaign “fast” because it “won’t last long.”
“I am running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again,” Arpaio tweeted.
I am running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again. https://t.co/ANppBdDOtp
— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) January 9, 2018
Ward, 48, went on to defend Arpaio’s problematic record on immigration during the interview, saying he has been a “leader on fighting illegal immigration.”
“Joe’s a patriot. He has been a leader on fighting illegal immigration here in our state — we’re a border state,” Ward said.
Arpaio has long been an embattled figure in politics because of his far-right views on immigration and law enforcement.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio declared in an interview to kick off his campaign. “I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that every day, anyway.”
After losing his bid for reelection in 2o16 after more than two decades serving as Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio was convicted of disobeying a federal court order to cease the use of racial profiling in law enforcement, which President Trump later pardoned him for.
When asked on Thursday exactly how Arpaio has been a leader on immigration, Ward said the former sheriff enforced the “rule of law.”
“He has fought for the rule of law here in Arizona, and that’s what people are looking at.”
H/T: The Hill