Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, who has been the victim of what his supporters says is a vicious smear campaign in his bid to gain the Republican nomination for a congressional seat, came out swinging in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
Babeu says his liberal opponents fear his going to Congress as a staunch “strict constitutionalist” conservative so much that they are doing everything they can to stop him.
In January, Babeu announced his candidacy for Arizona’s redrawn 4th Congressional District, representing a large swathe of southwestern Arizona, including parts of Pinal County south of Pheonix.
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Elected in 2008 as sheriff in Pinal County, Babeu exhibited a crime-fighting prowess that made him a national figure. Babeu, who was named Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff’s Association last year, is president of the Arizona Sheriffs' Association.
But Babeu’s candidacy in the heavily Republican 4th District also made national headlines when a former boyfriend (Babeu acknowledges he’s gay) went public with the relationship and claims that Babeu threatened to have him deported to Mexico.
“It’s been pushed around for months and months, in fact for years; political opponents have threatened me, trying to go to the newspapers and the TV station and nobody would touch it,” Babeu told Newsmax. He said believed his friend was living legally in the U.S. "I had no reason to believe he was any less legal than me or you," Babeu said, adding, "He held a graduate degree, driver's license and full time job."
Babeu says voters should judge him on his long record in public service, including military duty in Iraq. In 2010 Babeu retired from the National Guard after 20 years of service. As a patrolman in Arizona, Babeu was awarded two Life Saving Medals for performing police duties.
Last month, Babeu called a news conference to deny the allegations of threats made by his former friend. Attending the news conference were about three dozen high-ranking uniformed deputies, local elected officials, and citizens, according to The Associated Press.
Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain also joined in supporting Babeu. Noting that Babeu is a “friend of mine,” McCain said, “He also deserves the benefit, as every citizen does, of innocence until proven guilty.”
“I believe we should be defined by not only the value we bring to our community but to our country. That’s what I have done my entire life, that’s how I want and ask people to judge me, the same way that they want to be judged in the end — fairly,” Babeu told Newsmax TV.
He suggested a political motive to the personal allegations against him, saying, “The fact that this could be in the public realm at this timing should be suspect to everybody.”
Babeu said his record as a tough sheriff of Pinal County has earned him national praise, especially on matters concerning illegal immigration and drug-smuggling. Even though his county is 70 miles north of the border, many of the most significant busts have been made on his turf.
“We have scored the biggest drug busts in Arizona history, smashing a key branch of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most violent cartels in Mexico,” he said.
“Remember in Mexico, 49,000 people have been killed in this war between the Calderon Mexican government versus the cartels over the past four years. Who’s winning that war? Certainly it’s not Mexico, so they are bringing their violence and their trash here to America and right through my county.”
Babeu was elected sheriff in Pinal in 2008, becoming the first Republican to hold the position. He described the accomplishments of his department under his leadership as “nothing short of Herculean,” especially in the way he has cut emergency response time in half.
The Obama administration not only has failed to control the Mexican border but also has punished officials in Arizona that have attempted to, he said.
“President Obama has failed. Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano have failed,” he said, referring to the attorney general and homeland security secretary. “These people need to be held accountable.
“They are trying to lull everybody into a false sense of security, saying the border is more secure than ever, advocating for amnesty or some form of immigration reform. I’m 100 percent against that, most people are.”
Babeu says the federal government has failed in fighting Mexican cartels whose trafficking and violence are spilling over the border. “We need help. We’ve asked for help and the federal government, instead of helping us it has actually sued us,” he said.
If he gets to Congress, Babeu said he will focus on jobs and the economy, especially as parts of his district have unemployment rates of up to 30 percent.
“Families, individuals are hurting and the only thing we are hearing from Washington and from President Obama and his administration is more stimulus, more debt, more borrowing and more spending.
“How does that work? It hasn’t. In fact it’s just created a massive debt of $16-plus trillion which is choking off our already-struggling, gasping economy.
“What we need to do is not borrow any more money, not try to have the government create jobs. Fiscal conservatives know that it’s the private sector, small and medium-sized business that creates jobs.”
Babeu faces Rep. Paul Gosar, a freshman Republican representing Arizona’s 1st district, and Arizona State Senator Ron Gould for the primary election set for August 4.
Babeu said he is a proud conservative and has already signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to vote for any tax increases.
“I signed it in Grover Norquist’s office. I’m a huge fan of limiting the role of government. I’m a strict constitutionalist and the government has been in our wallets and pocket books for far too long.”
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