Politics make strange bedfellows and there are no stranger bedfellows in the GOP presidential race than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Arpaio is in Iowa as I write this, along for the ride on Perry’s final bus tour of the state before its Tuesday evening caucuses.
Now one thing that is obvious is that Perry hopes to use Arpaio’s anti-immigrant mojo to cover up the fact that he has gone on record, both in debate and in the press, as being soft on illegal immigration. His support of the DREAM act and his scoffing at the need for a border fence are strikes one and two against Perry in the cold, cold hearts of anti-immigrant Iowans.
But here’s the thing. This is having an opposite effect, at least in the press. The story in the press isn’t about how Arpaio and Perry agree on illegal immigration, it is about how much they disagree.
Arpaio hasn’t weighed in on letting the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants attend college without having to pay put-of-state tuition – a major part of the DREAM Act but my guess is that he would take a dim view of such a thing, especially now, since he has been charged by the feds of using discriminatory tactics in stopping and questioning Hispanics.
But what is clear is that Arpaio and Perry do not see eye-to-eye on a border fence, something Arpaio has made very clear that he wants, but something Rick Perry doesn’t think is necessary.
So while the intent in having Arpaio along for the ride is transparent and clear, the SNAFU in all of this is that the emphasis has become the contrast between Perry and Arpaio’s divergent opinions on illegal immigration.
That is, Perry is making it obvious to anti-immigrant Iowans that he is not their man.