Brewer backs GOP pol who doesn't want Middle Easterners in the US

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by Dennis Welch | 3TV Political Editor

Bio | Email | Follow: @Dennis_Welch

azfamily.com

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 11 at 12:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer abruptly canceled her appearance at a fundraising event this week for a Republican politician who made incendiary comments about Middle Eastern immigrants.

But the state's highest ranking official isn't pulling her support for GOP congressional candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, who said immigrants from that part of the world shouldn't be allowed in the country "legally or illegally."

Brewer was slated to headline an event Wednesday in Tucson for the Republican but canceled without giving a reason why.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer's office, would only say, "The governor will not be attending."

He added that Brewer will continue helping Saucedo Mercer in the future. Brewer officially endorsed Saucedo Mercer earlier this year.

In a brief statement, the governor wrote: "Southern Arizona has a fantastic opportunity this fall to send someone to Congress who will always support our state and fight for quality jobs, affordable energy and a secure border."

Brewer's endorsement letter continued: "That candidate is Gabriela Saucedo Mercer. While her incumbent opponent bows to unions and special interests, I’m proud to support Gabriela because I know she’ll always put Arizona first."

Saucedo Mercer is running against Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District.

Two weeks ago, Grijalva's campaign released a year-old video showing Saucedo Mercer talking about immigration with a conservative media organization.

An immigrant from Mexico herself, Saucedo Mercer said in the video that Middle Easterners want to hurt Americans and shouldn't be allowed in the country.

"If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them look Mexican or they look like a lot of people in South America, dark skinned, dark hair, brown eyes and they mix, they mix in," she said. "Those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States, so why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?"

Saucedo Mercer has since clarified her remarks, saying she was talking about immigrants with ties to terrorists.

She has also accused Grijalva of "race baiting" and taking the video out of context. In a campaign mailer, Saucedo Mercer  said, "Grijalva is littering South Tucson with his propaganda, accusing Gabby of reckless, hate speech."

Regardless, the Arizona Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations said they're disappointed that Brewer would continue supporting Saucedo Mercer.

"The fact that she boycotted the fundraiser, that's a good first start, but it's not good enough," said Anas Hlayel, the chairman of CAIR's Arizona chapter.

Immediately after Grijalva distributed the video to the press, Hlayel's organization called for an apology. As of late Monday, Hlayel said he's not aware of Saucedo Mercer issuing one.

Brewer was not the only high-profile politician to endorse Saucedo Mercer. According to her website, Congressman Trent Franks and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have also announced their support.

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