Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County endorsed Mitt Romney for president and will serve as his Co-Chair of the Arizona campaign.
Romney, seeking to exploit Perry’s weakness on illegal immigration issues and gain traction in an early primary state that may yet determine the tone of the 2012 primary cycle, will be aided by Babeu’s support.
“It is an honor to have the support of Sheriff Babeu,” said Mitt Romney in a statement. “His efforts working to protect our border are critical to lowering crime, reducing illegal immigration, and stopping both drug and human trafficking.”
Added Romney: “Sheriff Babeu has been a leader in the call for the federal government to secure the border. As President, I will work with leaders like Sheriff Babeu to protect our Southern border, provide the required assistance from the federal government, and put an end to the magnets that cause illegal immigration.”
Babeu has gained national prominence during the immigration debate as a spokesman, of sorts, for law enforcement officials on the border.
“Securing our border is an important part of our national security – Mitt Romney understands this,” Babeu said in a statement. “He also understands that magnets like in-state tuition for illegal immigrants don’t stop illegal immigration, they only make it worse.”
Babeu’s highlighiting of “in-state tuition” for illegal immigrants is a direct reference to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose standing in the polls plummeted after saying that those who did not support giving illegal immigrants in Texas in-state tuition rates did not have “a heart.”