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Ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses Trump's 'shithole' remarks at his first public appearance in his bid for the Senate

For Joe Arpaio, it’s as if he never left.

On Saturday, in his first public appearance since he announced his candidacy for a Senate seat here, Arpaio attended a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans.

“You’re loved, Joe,” said a woman, placing both hands on his cheeks.

“Am I? I thought I was loved — thanks for confirming it,” said Arpaio, who served more than two decades as sheriff of Maricopa County, which spans Phoenix and the surrounding suburbs, before he was ousted in 2016.

Last week, Arpaio announced he would seek the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jeff Flake. He enters a crowded GOP primary.

In August, Arpaio, 85, was pardoned by President Trump after he was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. As sheriff, he faced dozens of lawsuits for what residents described as discriminatory policing tactics.

Arpaio has pledged full allegiance to the president and his policies.

So, about Trump’s recent comment that Haitians and Africans come from “shithole” countries?

“How can I comment on that? I wasn’t there,” Arpaio said. “Who knows what was really said. But the president did say he did not use those words, so I believe him.”

Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” then continued walking through the crowd.

“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.

“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.

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