Despite talk former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is planning to challenge Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018, the recently pardoned Arpaio told Newsmax TV that is not his thinking.
Instead, Arpaio told Monday's "Newsmax Now," his re-entry into politics will be focused on getting other "good Republicans" in office.
"I don't know whether I want to run for any office," he told hosts Bill Tucker and Jonathan Gilliam. "I will be active trying to get Republicans elected, the good Republicans that is, or help them raise money, which I've been doing for 24 years."
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Arpaio noted he has been the honorary chairman for several presidential campaigns, including George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry.
"Every time they run they come to me for my endorsement," he said, pointing out that when he introduced then-candidate Donald Trump at his first Phoenix rally he predicted Trump would win the White House.
"It all came true, so I don't forget that," Arpaio said.
The former sheriff said he would have great things to say about the president even if he had not pardoned him Friday for a conviction of criminal contempt. Prosecutors said Arpaio's office racially profiled suspects as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration.
Trump praised Arpaio in a White House press conference Monday where he defended his pardon.
"He's very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration," Trump said. "I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started."
Trump called Arpaio a "patriot" as he listed off several pardons and commutations issued by presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for people involved in terrorist acts, tax evasion, and disclosing national secrets.
Trump has faced intense criticism from Democrats and several Republicans, including both Arizona's senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. Flake, a frequent Trump critic, is up for re-election next year.
But the 85-year-old Arpaio told Newsmax the reports of him challenging Flake are overblown.
"There's a story out from a Washington newspaper, they interviewed me, that asks whether I'm back in politics again," Arpaio said. "So, I said, yeah I'm coming back."
Arpaio said he told his wife he was out of politics after his defeat in November, but then began to reconsider when he saw the relentless attacks on Trump and the divisions in the country.
"I do still have a lot of support," he said. "So, I told that to the reporter, and he said, 'What office are you running for if you do run?' And I said, 'I don't know if I'm running for any office.' And then he says, 'Would you run against Flake?'"
Arpaio insisted he did not know he would ever run for office again, but then did mention Flake because he opposed Trump pardoning him.
Arpaio said both Flake and McCain should have looked into his case, since they actually are from Arizona.
"Why didn't they come and ask me the real story about the abuse of the judicial system?" he said, adding Flake is "on a judiciary committee. Why doesn't he look into it? I wish he would look into this sort of affair by the courts."
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