COTTONWOOD - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce were welcomed like celebrities at a Cottonwood Tea Party rally Saturday.
During the three-hour event attended by more than 100 people. Arpaio and Pearce talked about a variety of issues from legislation, illegal immigration and the upcoming election, to abortion, religion and gun rights.
"Wow, look at the direction we're going. If you're not afraid, you're not paying attention," Pearce said after stating that President Obama has issued 930 executive orders since taking office nearly four years ago.
According to the National Archives, Obama has issued 138 executive orders since 2009. President George W. Bush issued 291 executive orders during his eight years in office. The last president to go over 900 was Franklin Roosevelt, who issued 3,728 executive orders in the 12 years he was in office.
Pearce, who co-authored Arizona's controversial SB1070, spoke mostly to the legislative side of politics and the many propositions he has helped write over the years.
"Arizona has inherent authority to enforce the laws as they were written in the state statute. You don't need a permission slip from federal government, Washington D.C. or Eric Holder," said Pearce, firing up the crowd.
Arpaio said that his political advisors and the people on his campaign have told him to drop the subject of President Barack Obama's birth certificate if he wants to get re-elected in November.
"I'm not going after the president. I am not going after whether he is here illegally or not. I don't care. I am looking at forged documents. That's all," said Arpaio. "We dropped it, but it's not dropped."
In July, the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office held two press conferences to try and show evidence that Obama's birth certificate was forged. Both press conferences fell flat.
Also in attendance Saturday was Lori Klein, the former Arizona state senator known for allegedly pointing her loaded, raspberry colored gun at a reporter during an interview in her office.
Klein traded friendly banter with Arpaio about her copying his pink prison garb by getting a pink gun. She corrected him that her gun is, in fact, raspberry, not pink.
During the Arizona primary election in August, both Pearce and Klein lost the seats they were campaigning for. They are now helping to raise money for Arpaio's general election campaign.
Arpaio joked about his legal troubles and laughed that if he spoke too much about the great programs he offered to inmates he would no longer be considered the "America's toughest sheriff" and instead people would start calling him "America's nicest sheriff."
Bob Windsor, Cottonwood Tea Party founder and president, organized the event as an opportunity for supporters to meet Arpaio and Pearce and as a fundraiser. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7400, 705 E. Aspen St., let the Tea Party use their facilities.
Along with having a 50-50 drawing, and raffling off gift certificates and literature, there was a hot ticket item up for grabs, a Ruger .38-caliber revolver. At the end of the speeches people could also pay to take a souvenir photo with Pearce and Arpaio.
The money raised was to support the tea party and candidates they back, such as Arpaio.
Cottonwood's Michael Pias, 71, was happy to finally meet the 80-year-old Arpaio. "I love his energy and I wish we had more like him," he said. "He looks great for his age."
Arpaio and Pearce both signed autographs, joked around and took photos with supporters before finally departing the VFW a little after 4 p.m.
Judy Thomas, 72, of Cottonwood, said she was happy to hear a lot of talk about illegal immigration as she herself is frustrated that Hispanic immigrants don't seem to want to assimilate into American culture.
"I've seen people who have been here 30 years and haven't learned English," she said.