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Pence takes heat from Democratic Senator over Arpaio endorsement

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a crowd in Arizona on Wednesday, praising Senate candidate and former sheriff Joe Arpaio.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence credited former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio as being a "tireless champion of...the rule of law" at an event in Arizona. But the seeming endorsement drew strong words from Democratic Senator Brian Schatz.

Schatz tweeted out that "Joe Arpaio is an unlawful racist and it is enormously important that the Vice President of the United States just lavished praise on him."

Arpaio is currently running for the US Senate seat in Arizona that will be left open after Republican Senator Jeff Flake's vow to abandon any re-election bid. Flake has been publicly critical of President Trump.

But Arpaio, conversely, has been hailed as an ally of President Trump, who pardoned the former sheriff prior to his sentencing when he was found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal judge. During his tenure as sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, Arpaio made a name for himself as "America's toughest sheriff," accused of widespread racial profiling and criticized for his alleged harsh treatment of prison inmates.

As a candidate for the US Senate, Arpaio reinforced his ardent support of Trump and the president's immigration laws, saying that "Being a US senator is a little different than being sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the US Senate, and I have plans, believe me. It's tough. It's a tough decision. But if you're going to come across that border, you should be arrested and get the consequences of it."

Tuesday's tweet from Senator Schatz isn't the first time he's criticized Vice President Pence. After Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game last fall, Schatz called foul following speculation that the Vice President's presence was a publicity stunt at the expense of taxpayers.

During a widespread campaign of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, President Trump tweeted that he had asked Pence to leave the stadium if any players disrespected the country in such a fashion. Pence walked out after several players took a knee during opening ceremonies.

Upon that revelation, Senator Schatz tweeted, "Wait. This was orchestrated to make a point? That's not an inexpensive thing to do." Another Twitter user speculated that Pence's trip to attend the game cost taxpayers over $250,000.

One last thing…
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