Donald Trump will hold a rally in Arizona this weekend with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona Republic reports, a function that has the potential to set a new high water mark for anti-immigration sentiment verbalized at a single Republican primary event. The gathering was moved from a Phoenix theater to the city’s convention center after what Trump’s campaign described as an “overwhelming” demand for tickets.
There is no more natural a companion for Trump in the state of Arizona than Arpaio, whose county web page calls him “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Arpaio has used his office to harass Latinos so egregiously in the name of immigration enforcement that a panel of judges gave his department its own federal monitor and the Department of Justice no longer allows him to detain suspected illegal immigrants on its behalf.
While Trump and Arpaio will have a lot to talk about on the subject of border security, their overlapping views aren’t limited to the country’s southern boundary: Trump is a long-time supporter of Arpaio’s search for evidence that Barack Obama’s family faked his Hawaiian birth and he is therefore not really president. Just in case anyone thought Trump had backed off of that, he reinforced his skepticism over Obama’s citizenship in a CNN interview on Thursday.
Trump’s birtherism was reportedly one of the reasons Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake found it distasteful that the Maricopa County Republicans were hosting Saturday’s rally. When Flake appealed to the party this week to reconsider its involvement, the county chairmain responded that he was “thrilled” Trump was coming and scolded Flake for violating the Reagan rule that “thou shall not speak ill of any other Republican.”
Flake’s opposition aside, Arizona is full of pro-Trump Republicans, including former governor Jan Brewer, who presided over the passage of the state’s notorious SB 1070 immigration law. Brewer said this week that Trump is “telling it like it really, truly is” on the issue of immigration. Maybe Trump will even find time to meet state attorney general Mark Brnovich, branded by the Republic’s editorial board as “Arizona’s Donald Trump” for his tone-deaf fight against court rulings granting driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented “dreamers.”
Trump’s trip to Arizona caps off a busy week in which the candidate threatened to sue two high-profile chefs who pulled out of commitments to open restaurants in his new hotel, which will be just down the street from the White House. The Washington Post also found this week that a number of potentially undocumented employees were working on renovations at the new hotel. In spite of the controversy about Trump’s positions on immigration, which has not died down since the inflammatory statements about Mexicans made during his campaign launch, he maintains that he will win the Latino vote on his way to the presidency in 2016. A YouGov national poll released on Friday put him in first place among GOP hopefuls for the first time.
Trump might be looking forward to making Saturday’s anti-immigration pitch in a friendly arena, with even Phoenix’s Democratic mayor standing up for Trump’s “right under the First Amendment to make absurd and embarrassing statements,” but he’ll be flying slightly unfriendlier skies to get there. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that they’ll be dumping Trump-inspired codes—DONLD, TRMMP, and UFIRD—for three navigation points used to chart departures from the Palm Beach airport, since “in general, the FAA chooses names that are noncontroversial.”