- Kelli Ward, a conservative running for Senate in Arizona, was forced to defend former President Barack Obama against claims made by her Republican primary opponent, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, on Thursday.
- “I believe that Barack Obama was born here, that he was our legitimate president,” Ward said.
- Ward went on to praise Arpaio as a “patriot,” and sidestepped questions about whether she endorsed his former practice of racial profiling.
Kelli Ward, a conservative running for Senate in Arizona, was forced to defend former President Barack Obama against claims made by her Republican primary opponent, Joe Arpaio, that Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.
Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff convicted by a federal judge of criminal contempt last summer and later pardoned by President Donald Trump, has long promoted the “birther” conspiracy theory, which claims that Obama was not born in the US and therefore not eligible to be president. Arpaio announced his intention to run for Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat on Wednesday.
In a Thursday morning interview, CNN host Alisyn Camerota pressed Ward on whether she agreed with Arpaio’s “birther” claim.
“It is a controversy that doesn’t need to be discussed,” Ward responded. “I’m not really going to go down a rabbit hole with you.”
Camerota then asked, “But do you believe that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is real? I mean let’s just dispense with it right there.”
“I believe that Barack Obama was born here, that he was our legitimate president,” Ward responded, quickly adding that she also believes Obama “legitimately rammed the failed Obamacare healthcare policy down our throats and now Republicans have to fix it.”
Ward, a right-wing former state senator, went on to praise Arpaio, calling him a “patriot” and “a leader on fighting illegal immigration” who’s “fought for the rule of law.”
“Welcome to the fray, Joe,” she said. “There’s plenty of room in this race for Joe Arpaio.”
When Camerota asked if Ward was “comfortable” with Arpaio’s record of implementing illegal racial profiling in his county, Ward sidestepped the question.
“People here in Arizona want the border secure, and that’s why Sheriff Joe was so popular when he was in office,”
Watch the full interview below: