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Arpaio: ‘I Am Not a Yes Man’ to Trump

Arizona GOP Senate hopeful dodges questions on details of Trump policies he says he supports

Former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a Donald Trump campaign rally at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a Donald Trump campaign rally at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona GOP Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, who has expressed undying support for President Donald Trump, pushed back Tuesday on the notion that he is blindly following the president’s policies without knowing the details.

At a news conference Tuesday to deliver the signatures necessary to get on the ballot, reporters repeatedly challenged Arpaio to elaborate on those policies and how they would affect Arizonans.

“I am not a ‘yes man,’” Arpaio said. “But I do support the majority of [Trump’s] policies, his agenda, and I’m going to continue doing that.”

When asked, Arpaio could not identify any of the president’s policies he disagreed with.

His campaign kickoff tweet from January reads: “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, a former Phoenix-area sheriff, gained notoriety for his aggressive — and, in one case, illegal — tactics pursuing undocumented immigrants living in his county.

Trump pardoned Arpaio last year after he was convicted for intentionally defying a court order in a racial profiling case.

His tap-dance with the legal boundaries around law enforcement pursuing undocumented immigrants has cost his old Maricopa County sheriff’s department millions of dollars in local taxpayer money.

On Tuesday the county announced it will reserve $30 million next year to comply with the U.S. district court judge’s order to purge the sheriff’s department of racial discrimination, the Arizona Republic reported. Maricopa County will use that money to buy body cameras, hire new staff, and bring in a court monitor to oversee and audit the department’s practices.

Arpaio faces Rep. Martha McSally and former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the Aug. 26 primary for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.

[Every 2018 Election, From Start to Finish]

Reporters on Tuesday repeatedly challenged Arpaio on policy nuances in an apparent test to see if he had any substantive opinions to back up his loyalty to Trump’s agenda.

He was even asked if he knew what a tariff was.

“I know what tariffs are, but I’m not here to do a history — to educate you on what a tariff is,” Arpaio said.

He also declined to answer a question on whether Trump’s decision to end the Iran nuclear deal by imposing harsh economic sanctions on the country would imperil American lives.

“I am not in the Senate yet,” Arpaio said, adding that he does not have all the “foreign information” on the scrapped deal’s ramifications.

“You expect me to know everything,” he said.

Trump won Arizona by 4 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Senate race a Toss-up

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