Sheriff Arpaio fires up tea party base in Vegas
The Associated Press

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010 | 9:04 p.m.

Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio said President Barack Obama needs him to resolve the country's immigration crisis and offered to help Nevada open its own tent city for detained illegal immigrants.

Arpaio drew passionate cheers from more than 1,500 fellow conservatives at a Las Vegas Tea Party Express rally Tuesday, the latest stop in a national tour capitalizing on government discontent.

"I am the solution but no one wants to listen to me," Arpaio said. "Everyone talks about 'secure the border.' That's a cop-out. Why don't we secure the United States of America and lock up these illegals that are already here?"

Arpaio, an elected sheriff from southern Arizona, is a hard-right Republican under federal investigation for potential civil rights violations.

He said the United States should send border patrol officers or the army to Mexico to confront illegal immigration at the source with Mexico's permission. He called on Obama to invite him to the White House for "some Italian wine" and a discussion on the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Arpaio was the headliner at the political rally that sought to unify conservatives two weeks before the critical midterm elections.

Hawkers sold shirts that declared "We the People" and "Fox News Fan" and supporters waved signs for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle. The bar advertised a $15 all-you-can-drink special and a mechanical bull.

An opening act jested that Kenya no longer claims Obama as one of its own. The audience booed when reminded that Obama's 2008 victory helped land him a Nobel Peace Prize and roared at suggestions that Obama was a socialist and a fascist.

Arpaio mentioned Angle only in passing.

"She has said some very nice things about me," he said. "It's very nice."

On the tea party circuit, Angle tells crowds that "every state should have a sheriff like Joe Arpaio." She's in a tight battle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who supports allowing illegal immigrants to pursue legal status.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped the national Tea Party Express launch its 15-day bus tour Monday in Reno. It wraps up in New Hampshire on Nov. 1.