Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gave what some may call the perfect answer when asked about the late Sen. John McCain.
The Arizonan was heading into Tuesday’s primary election for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat — a primary that was won by Arpaio rival Martha McSally. He was interviewed by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt.
Following McCain’s death from brain cancer on Saturday, many political figures weighed in on McCain’s life and heroic sacrifice during the Vietnam War. In a short transcript of the Arpaio interview segment released on Twitter by Hunt, Arpaio was asked to weigh in with his thoughts, too.
His answer could arguably have had fans of President Donald Trump shouting for joy at how he handled the potential “gotcha” question. Anyone familiar with Arpaio’s outspoken style might say his answer is also a classic Arpaio thing to say:
Me: “Do you think John McCain is a patriot?”
Me: “A hero?”
Arpaio: “That’s hard for me to answer. Because I never had a hero in my life until several months ago when I woke up after 75 years and I found my hero. You know who that person is? Donald Trump.” https://t.co/OCjq8yhLYV
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) August 28, 2018
Some have hailed McCain as a hero due to his military service, including a brutal stint as a prisoner of war, prior to becoming first a member of the House of Representatives and then a United States senator. Military.com wrote a summary of that service that highlighted why so many consider McCain as a heroic figure:
“A Naval Academy graduate, he flew an A-4E Skyhawk while serving in Vietnam and was shot down and captured on October 23, 1967. He spent 5 1/2 years in the notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton,’ where Medal of Honor recipients Air Force Col. Leo Thorsness, Navy Vice Admiral James Stockdale and Air Force Col. Bud Day were also held captive during the war.
“McCain reportedly never cracked under interrogation, enduring torture that left much of his body broken (his wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of lifting his arms over his head).”
While McCain had his share of critics, given the animosity between him and Trump, it is understandable that someone like Arpaio might weigh in a little more favorably on the side of the president. The Washington Examiner wrote that “Arpaio was pardoned by Trump in August 2017 after a federal district court judge ruled that he was in criminal contempt of court for not following another judge’s order to cease traffic patrols targeting illegal immigrants.”
That could easily lead Arpaio to view Trump as a “hero,” but he is not alone in holding that viewpoint. It’s not a new reaction to Trump, and it’s not one that’s limited to the United States. Public speaker and Huffington Post UK writer Jean Gasho — a native of Zimbabwe who now lives in England — gave three reasons on her blog in 2016 why Trump was her hero:
“As a woman who loves children, to me, any man who puts the life of unborn babies first has got a good heart. I can not even fathom that people can support partial birth abortions. Donald Trump condemns this evil practice, and for that alone, he won my heart.”
“He did one thing that no presidential candidate has ever done, he spoke his mind. He was just real. He did not tell people what they wanted to hear and for that, he had the big media houses against him.”
“He is not a politician. He was more of a family and businessman than politician. He has raised lovely children and he is a firm believer in the institution of marriage. For that he resonated with the people, especially the American Christians. I am not into politics but I understood his language.”
Also in 2016, Breitbart published a letter in full from “grieving mother” and “legal German immigrant Sabine Durden (who) lost her only son Dominic in 2012 when an unlicensed, illegal alien driver hit and killed him.” In the letter, Durden noted how Trump differed from the other presidential candidates.
After years of trying to draw attention to the problem of illegal immigrant crime, the pain and frustration of feeling unheard and missing her son got to Durden, who planned to end her own life. She wrote that when she heard Trump address the issue, she began “screaming, clapping (her) hands and crying tears of joy.” She credited Trump with saving her life that day and called him her “hero.”
More recently, across social media, members of the public at large call Trump their hero for any number of reasons, including improvements in the economy, jobs, tax cuts, attacking Obamacare, and standing up to “fake news” media. The following is just one of many examples of such sentiment:
Look at me! Pay attention to me!!!! Don’t pay attention to all the love & respect for @SenJohnMcCain — an ACTUAL hero — I’m the president! I get to make the rules. I order the country to pay attention to ME ME ME ME ME! Look over here at me. I can tweet anything I want. MEEEEE!
— MeganKelleyHall (@MeganKelleyHall) August 29, 2018
According to some conservatives, including founder and president of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk, Trump is growing his fan base, as well:
President Trump’s approval rating with Black Americans increased a staggering 7% between June and August to 36%
Black small business ownership is up 400% since @realDonaldTrump took office
Black unemployment rate is lowest EVER
Democrats should be very worried
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 28, 2018
While Trump has his fair share of critics, his supporters are numerous. Despite the ongoing hits against him, his approval rating remains steady at 46 percent according to The Hill. That was actually up a point from the same poll a month ago.
So, for liberals, it might be a mystery why Trump is so popular, but Trump supporters have no problem understanding Arpaio’s feelings. And they know why his answer left them cheering.