Image: Michele Bachmann, Joe Arpaio
Paul Connors  /  AP
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., answers questions regarding illegal immigration issues plaguing Arizona during a news conference with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right, at his office on Wednesday.
By
updated 9/15/2011 6:18:28 AM ET 2011-09-15T10:18:28

If you're running for president, how do you convince supporters you are tough enough on immigration? Get the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America whose uncompromising stand on illegal immigration is a point of pride.

On Wednesday Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was the latest Republican presidential candidate hoping for Arpaio's backing.

She met in Phoenix with the Republican sheriff, whose endorsement is frequently sought by candidates in all types of races across the country.

Arpaio said he hasn't yet decided which candidate he will back in the GOP primary race.

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Bachmann, who was in Arizona for campaign fundraisers, focused almost entirely on immigration during the three minutes she talked to reporters. She then went into a private meeting with Arpaio.

"As president of the United States, I want to solve the border issue," Bachmann said, noting that the nation's immigration problems extend beyond the southern border states. "I want to build the fence that needs to be built and I want to solve this problem."

She said she would also eliminate inducements for illegal immigration into the U.S.

No evidence for Bachmann vaccine claims

Bachmann wouldn't say whether she supports Arizona's tough immigration enforcement law. A federal judge put the most controversial elements of the law on hold after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate it.

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"I know that as president of the United States, I would not be suing the state of Arizona," Bachmann said. "I would be fulfilling the commitment that the federal government needs to fulfill, and that is to secure our borders."

'They're all calling him'
Arpaio's campaign manager, Chad Willems, said Bachmann has called the sheriff several times, but she isn't the only presidential hopeful to do so. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have made calls of their own.

"They're all calling him," Willems said, adding that Arpaio will take his time to decide on an endorsement. "They're all in a hurry, of course."

In the 2008 primary race. the sheriff endorsed Romney over home-state candidate John McCain. Romney came in second, behind McCain, who won the state's 2008 primary.

Arpaio, a proven favorite of voters in the county that includes Phoenix, is well-known for his office's crackdown on illegal immigration, which has included conducting numerous raids on workplaces.

Slideshow: The political life of Michele Bachmann (on this page)

However, unrelated, failed investigations targeting county officials and judges were conducted by Arpaio's office and are now under scrutiny for ethics violations.

Bachmann wasn't the only candidate talking immigration with Arizona voters.

In Tucson on Wednesday, a crowd of business owners frustrated by the red tape required to bring in highly educated workers asked Bachmann's rival, Mitt Romney, how he would approach legal immigration.

Romney said he would give first priority to foreign workers with graduate degrees.

"I want people coming into the country with skills and experience, speaking English, with degrees and contributing to our culture and the capacity of our nation," Romney said, adding that legal immigrants often start their own businesses.

He said he doesn't want the uneducated or unskilled coming across the border or overstaying their visas, expecting the United States to provide them with education and health care.

Later, though, he noted that people from other countries come to the United States looking for opportunities for their families. "They don't come here for handouts," he said.

Later Wednesday Romney told an audience in Sun Lakes, Ariz., that he'd build a border fence and impose heavy sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

"Let's protect legal immigration and make it work for America and the families that come here legally," he told an audience in Sun Lakes, Ariz.

"I will stop illegal immigration," Romney promised, adding later, "It's time to do it."

Associated Press writer Paul Davenport in Sun Lakes, Ariz., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: The political life of Michele Bachmann

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  1. President George W. Bush campaigns with state Sen. Michele Bachmann in Wayzata, Minn. during her first Congressional race in August 2006. (Evan Vucci / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. As a state senator, Bachmann proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. She is pictured here speaking during a Senate hearing at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. in 2006. (Janet Hostetter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Helen LaFave, right, Bachmann's lesbian stepsister, speaks to the media at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. LaFave attended the 2006 hearing at which Bachmann presented her amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Her partner of 18 years, Nia Wronski, is seen at left. (Janet Hostetter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Bachmann walks on stage during the second day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September 2008. (Win McNamee / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Bachmann attracted national attention when she said that Democratic nominee Barack Obama "may have anti-American views" during an interview on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews in October 2008. (MSNBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Bachmann participates in the launching of the Republican National Committee's "Fire Pelosi" bus tour on September 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Bachmann, a leading critic of the Obama-backed health care law, lobbies for petitions calling for repeal of Obamacare in January 2011 on Capitol Hill. (Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Bachmann rankled some Republicans when she gave a "Tea Party" response to the president's State of the Union address in 2011. Critics said she detracted from the standard GOP response, which was given by House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan. (NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) (C), her husband Marcus Bachmann (R) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad listens to Bachmann's introduction prior to her speach at the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC Watchdog Reception January 21, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann spoke to Iowa's largest anti-tax group amidst speculation that she will run for president as a Republican candidate in 2012. (Steve Pope / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Bachmann looks at a cake commemorating the 100th birthday of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington in February 2011. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Bachmann speaks at a rally by home school advocates in in Des Moines, Iowa in March 2011. More than 1,000 home school advocates rallied on the steps of the Iowa Statehouse, cheered on by three potential Republican presidential candidates who joined their cause. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaks to supporters during her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. Bachmann was born in Waterloo. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann waves to supporters after speaking during the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa Aug. 13, 2011. Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll with 29% of the vote, edging out Rep. Ron Paul by 152 votes, or 28%. (Daniel Acker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A police officer guards Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann after protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement drowned out her foreign policy speech on Nov. 10, 2011 in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina. About 30 people rose in unison and began shouting during Bachmann's address aboard the USS Yorktown and then marched out peacefully. (Richard Ellis / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rep. Michele Bachmann is joined by her husband, left, during a news conference formally ending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Jan. 4, 2012 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann made the decision after a poor finish in the 2012 Iowa caucuses. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Doctor: Bachmann’s HPV vaccine claim ‘unfounded’

  1. Closed captioning of: Doctor: Bachmann’s HPV vaccine claim ‘unfounded’

    >>> the american academy of pediatrics is pushing back against statements made by presidential hopeful michele bachmann linking the hpv vaccine to mental retardation , and echoing the statements she made following the republican presidential debate , she talked about the dangers she believes the vaccine poses to the young girl girls.

    >> i had a mother come up to me after the debate in tampa, florida, and she told me that her daughter took that vaccination and suffered from mental retardation after.

    >> the "journal of american pediatrics" is shooting that down saying there is no scientific va llidity to that statement, and this is a vaccine to protect girls from kcervical cancer. and joining us now is a doctor, and glad to have you with us, because for people who want to have the vaccine for their young girls will be confused by the statement, and also merck said that guaardasil was proven in test trials, and so how is that message of michele bachmann potentially harmful for saving the lives of patients?

    >> well, thank you for having me on this. and i agree with you, that it is extraordinarily worrisome that she would say something that is scientifically unfounded. the vaccine has been proven to be extraordinarily effective as well as very safe and our current recommendations are that young girls receive this vaccine in order to prevent them from getting cervical cancer later in their lives.

    >> doctor, how does the medical community better inform the public to avoid the harmful spread of information and not just parents burk poparents, but politic ians like michele bachmann who is extremely misinformed?

    >> well, the colleges like american college of pediatrics and american college of obstetrics and they are important to form guidelines and policy for the betterment of the population. obviously, this is a vaccine that prevents cancer, and this is good for thepopulation, and good for women.

    >> you recommend that parents ask their own family doctor for their recommendations before seeking the knowledge of any determination, correct?

    >> of course. the role of the physicians is to when they talk with their patients in the office to go over the risks and benefits of any treatment or vaccine and make sure that each individual person understands the importance of the vaccine.

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